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Seminary of OurLadyof Angels 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1877, b y 

VER? REV. R. E. V. RICE, C. M., 
in the Office of the Librarian of Congres*, at Washington, D. C. 


T ne following translation has proved a labor indeed, but a 
labor of love. For long years the desire to see the " Virtues 
and Spiritual Doctrine of St. Vincent de Paul/ clothed in an 
English dress has been constantly present to the translator. He 
had hoped, and waited, and longed for some able hand to 
undertake the task. He had prayed that some one, adequately 
fitted, might come across the work, and, charmed with its 
beauty and impressed with its suitableness for the present 
times, lovingly determine to make others sharers in his pleasure 
and profit. But expectation proved vain, hope withered, and 
longing died in delay. The thought arose, and would not away, 
that if he wished his desire fulfilled he must himself perform 
the work. Fully conscious of his limited powers he refused 
at first to listen; but, as the thought persisted, and suggested 
that love would compensate, in great measure, for what he 
might otherwise lack, he resolved, for the glory of God and the 
honor o,f his holy Patron, to make the attempt. 

The result is now presented to the American public. 

There were difficulties in the way. > Among them was tha . 
existence of works of a similar nature, and apparently satisfying 
all that could be desired in relation to the life and doings of a 
particular saint. Of these it is a pleasure to mention and to 
recommend "The Spirit of St. Vincent de Paul," translated from 
the French of Mr. Ansart, by ihe Sisters of Charity. Mount 
St. Vincent, X. Y. 

But, though St. Vincent be a particnku- saint, who lived in a 
certain 1 :<j:iiity, at r. particular period, yet. since man s real 
life is iu hi;.; works, it may be truly said that lie lias lived in every 
section of the known earth, aud that to-day lie labors with 
nnalmioTsh ed ?.<-.i! in the busiest r.Vnrt.s and centre s of the 


civilized world as in the peaceful country villages and hamlets,, 
amid peoples of the so-called civilized countries as among the 
semi-barbarous nations of the Orient; because suffering exists 
everywhere, and, wherever suffering and human misery are, there 
St. Vincent labors. Hence, it cannot be superfluous to multiply 
narrations of his life, or of his virtues; it cannot be esteemed 
out of place to recite to those who honor and revere him, who. 
love him, other versions of his sayings and doings. 

Moreover, the present work of all others, and there is no. 
thought to derogate from their worth, presents most completely 
the virtue of the saint, and marks most fully and clearly his, 
ideas and teachings in regard thereto. It specifically treats, as its. 
title indicates, of the virtues of the saint and his spiritual 
doctrine. Other works exhibit his virtues in the history of his 
deeds. They are especially the work of the writers who narrate 
thp circumstances of his life and draw their own conclusions. 
In the present the words of the saint himself are given. The 
entire book is scarcely other than the writings and discourses of 
the saint arranged and brought to bear on particular points. 
It is, as the author well remarks, a complete compendium of the 
writings of St. Vincent de Paul. The sum, the substance, both 
of all his conferences whether to the Missionaries and Daughters 
of Charity, or to the religious communities of which he had 
charge, or to the numerous societies of ecclesiastics, and of the 
laity of both sexes which sprung up at his word, and were 
willing, and actually did give their wealth and their time for 
the benefit of the poor and suffering whose father he was, and of 
the innumerable letters to individuals of all ranks, of all classes 
and of all countries, constitutes the book. The author has but 
little of his own. lie never speaks but when to introduce the 

And this very feature lias proved no litlle trial to the translator. 
Because, intent on fidelity to tha sense, and even the very words 
of the saint, he has found it no easy task to transfer to ordinary 
intelligible English the complicated phrases and intricate sentences 
of the old style French of the sixteenth century. For, though 
Bossjict and Fcnclon, Racine and Covneille, eau and La F.on^ 
taine were remodeling and immortalizing the language of the 
Frank, oven while the poor and simple priost, Mr; Vinoefnfc, 


providing the necessaries of life for entire provinces racked and 
ruined by war and famine, still the old fashion held sway, and 
but slowly and reluctantly gave way before the new. 

To grasp the main idea, then, of the saint, and to pay attention 
to the accompanying and confirmatory clauses, and make them 
a united whole in English as they arc in the French, was a serious 
obstacle. He presumes to think he has been faithful and exact 
in perceiving the meaning of the Saint and rendering it into run 
ning English. May be his hopes have overleaped his ability. 
His desire and effort, however, have been sincere and constant. 

The author presupposes in his readers a general knowledge of 
the main facts in the life of the saint. Hence, frequent reference 
is made to the story of that life. This may prove to some an 
unsatisfactory feature of the work. Yet, everything in the book 
is complete and independent. True, for a more comprehensive 
understanding of the degree of virtue practised, for a deeper 
and more intimate feeling of the heroism of many of the acts 
narrated, an acquaintance Avith the history of the life of the 
Saint is requisite. For the work is a companion to the Life. It 
is presumed that the major portion of those who will read it are 
sufficiently familiar with the name and works of the Apostle of 
Charity, and, therefore, that a mere mention of certain circum 
stances is all that is required to recall the picture in all its vividness. 
Or, again, it is hoped that the reading of the work will create 
such interest as to beget in, to whom the life of the Saint 
of suffering humanity is unknown, the desire to peruse it in all 
its details. 

The general plan of the work is of the simplest. The author 
claims no credit therefor. He simply followed in the path of 
those preceding him, or rather, he says, in that mapped out by the 
Church both for them and him. For the Church, in her process 
of canonization, interrogates the memory of tlie one proposed 
for the honors of her altars, first in regard to the theological 
virtues of faith, hope, and charity, and then, their annexes. This 
plan, originated by the Church, has become that of all hagio- 
graphal writers, and any departure therefrom would only indi 
cate temerity and over-weening self-love. 

The particular method adopted in each of \\\o cV.o.piers is 


sufficiently suggested by the title of the work itself: " Virtues 
and Doctrine of St. Vincent do Paul." Hence, there are two 
paragraphs in each wherein the Saint is represented successively 
as doing and teaching, according to the example of our Savior, 
Whom he loved to cite as authority : "Jesus began to do and 
to teach." (Acts i., 1.) And by this plan it has been possible 
to arrange with greater order and more connection both facts 

o o 

and doctrine. 

The perusal of the book will abundantly indicat*lhc character 
of the virtues practised by our Saint, and will shed new lights 
upon those who arc familiar with the details of his long and 
active life of eighty-four years, beginning in the lowliness and 
poverty of a poor peasant s cot in the Landes of the borders of 
France and Spain and terminating in the honor and merit of 
founder and superior of two religious communities in the Church, 
and, by reason of his charity, with the title of father and savior of 
France. The mere mention of the name of Vincent de Paul con 
veys the idea of charity, and of a charity as extensive and as far- 
reaching as human suffering itself; but, carried away with the 
giganticwork of charity performed by a simple and obscure priest, 
apparently no more pious nor virtuous than those around him, we 
do not realize the heroism of his virtue in all its objects. We 
kno\r he is humble and charitable, and we expect nothing less; 
but we do not look upon him as practising those other virtues 
of mortification, of fasting, and of penance that strike us so forci 
bly and so admiringly, and, mayhap, so repellingly, in the lives of 
other servants of the Almighty. In fact, dazzled by the won 
derful operations of the charity of God ir.anii ested in the Saint, 
wo do ;:ol pvnetrntc the depth of his virtue. And this is the 
peculiarity of St. Vincent dc Paul.- Inspired by divine grace he 
discovered the secret of carrying all virtue to an heroic degree, 
whil;;t to ali oulw-nrd appearance- he lived like ordinary good 
people of hi.s class. T:-ko him i:i any of the different stages of 
Lis life and this will be een. As a poor herdsboy, a strugur-v-; 
scholar, an humble tutor striving for the wherewith to complete 
his ecclesiastical o Indies, as a poor and unfriended priest, as a 
slave in Tunis, as a country pastor, n private instructor in a 
i^ealthy family, or finally, as founder and co-laborer in the grand 
k 1 of the inissicr. !? s work t.ha,t was to effect such immense 


good for the Church, and that still continues to produce every 
day such miracles of grace among all peoples in all these con 
ditions he outwardly appeared but little distinguished from 
those around him. And yet, in the light of his private and 
interior life, how they loom up big with virtue and grace; how 
we are struck with amazement and surprise that we did not 
imagine and reflect that such must have been the case, since to 
serve God we must be His, entirely His, and to be entirely His 
we must be perfect imitators of Jesus Christ! 

"What will especially strike those who will read this little 
work,and convince them of its present opportuneness may, per 
chance, be the Saint s absolute dependence in everything on God 
and His Providence, his complete union in all his words and 
deeds with Jesus Christ. Those, who come after us, when 
analyzing the close of this century of boasted civilization, en 
lightenment, and progress, will readily detect its gross material 
ity, its utter forgetfulness of God, if not its absolute denial of 
His existence. They will understand to what an extent the 
prince of this world has revived the old Pagan principles " Live 
to-day, you are not," "Look to yourself, none other 
will." They will see into what contempt the teachings and 
maxims of Jesus Christ, their God and Redeemer, have fallen, aye, 
and that, too, with those who pretend to be His servants, His 
devoted followers, His very ministers. " Seek first the kingdom 
of God, and all else shall be added unto you." "You have not 
liL-ro a resting place," and trie entire teachings of the God-man 
are become obsolete, antiquated. The world with its doctrine 
is penetrating everywhere, even to the most inner sanctuaries. 
The general tendency of thought, of word, and of action scorns 
to bo to ignore God, and consequently to d:-po id upon oneself 
for all success and hajr. -iiK: -s, seems to consider the earth and its 
joys the supremo object of ir.ruf.i existence. Not so St. Vincent 
do Paul. His absolute dependence en God has something grand 
and luminous. He thoroughly comprehended that ho was 
creature, ..nd hence only necessary or useful in as much, and in as 
{;ir as his Creator willed; that of hlmselfhe could do nothing, that 
ho required literally at every breath the assistance of 
God, that all interference, on his part, particularly in works 
more int.lmat.olv relating to Go-T* r.o.rvic-fi. would rorve 


rather to hasten their ruin than promote their advance 
ment. And this dependence ever kept him in humility, 
ever impelled him to seek by all the means in his power 
to learn the will of his Creator, and, once assured of the Divine 
pleasure, to boldly and with unbounded confidence set to work 
to accomplish it ; never for an instant permitting anxiety for the 
result to trouble his mind or disturb the peace of his soul. God s 
work it was, and God would have it. performed as it pleased 
Himself. This was sufficient. 

Such was the guiding principle of Vincent s life, and such he 
taught all with whom he came in contact. For he ever strove to 
imitate Jesus Christ and to induce others to imitate Him. And 
what has been the life of the Savior if not absolute dependence 
on God, His Father, and faithful performance of all the Divine 
wills ? 

And this constitutes the charm in the virtues and teachings 
of St. Vincent. Though his instructions are given ordinarily 
to those who are called to the higher grades of piety t still the 
humblest, the simplest, can apply them and practise them. They 
may make them their own and yet outwardly go not out of their 
ordinary way. They can find in them the highest excellence of 
virtue, and by their practice become most holy servants of their 
God, without the slightest fear of illusion, without the accom 
panying vanity and deadly self-complaconcy of great works. 

That the perusal of the virtues and spiritual instructions of 
St. Vincent de Paul may inspire some little effort to make them 
their own, and thus honor God and imitate the Saint, is what is 
most humbly and earnestly prayed for, and constitutes the high 
est praise and reward his readers can bestow upon the 


IKTTEKS. t>Aifi> 

IV When Obedience calls to an,orher House 5 

V Some Advices and Some Strength _ . ....:.". (j 

VI Advice in Regard to Recreation G 

VII To the Sisters in Poland on the Occasion of send 
ing other Sisters 8 

VIII On Christmas 9 

IX Mutual Affection 10 

X Against Division between Superior and Inferior. . 10 
XI Disunion among Sisters, and Discouragement in 

Contradictions .. 12 

XII Same Subject, to the Sisters at Nantes.. 13 

XIII To the Same 13 

XIV To the Same, on Mutual Support _._ 14 

XV To the same in sending them a letter of St. Vin 
cent .. 14 

XVI Patience in Trials 16 

XVII Same Subject Danger of Office 17 

XVIII Some extracts of Letters 17 

XIX Advices to Sisters suggested by their names 18 

XX To a sick Sister 19 

XXI Petition for the Apostolic Benediction, 1652 20 

XXII Will of Mademoiselle Le Gras.. . 20 


The admirable work entitled: "The Virtues and Spiritual Doctrine of St. 
Vincent de Paul," by the Abbe Maynard, now for the tirst time appearlnz in 
an English dress, and published by the "Seminary of Our Lady of Angel*," 
has been highly commended by his Eminence, Cardinal Harlot, Arch-bishop 
of Paris, and very favorably received by the Catholic people of France. The 
translation by a Priest of the Congregation of the Mission, now offered to the 
American public, has my fullest approbation, and I must also hope that the 
enterprise shown in contributing so valuable a work to our American Catholic 
literature, and publishing the same from the College press, will be apprecia 
ted and encouraged, as it deserves. The work itself cannot fail to be appre 
ciated wheresoever known, and to do good wheresoever read. The spirit of 
St. Vincent is revea ed in his virtues and spiritual doctrine, and the spirit rf 
Vincent is the spirit and essence of genuine Christian charity, the very life 
and soul of Christianity. All classes will be benefitted by the perusal of this 
work. The simple faithful who seek to follow Christ and lead Christian 
lives, lives comforinpd to the maxims of the Gospel, will be ediiied and in 
structed and incited to imitation; the clergy will see the model Piiest of 
modern times practising as well as teaching the virtues that adorn ard 
sanctify the priestly character and calling ; the religious of both sexes will 
find in its pages a practical illustration of that higher inner life and high 
religious perfection which they profess, and learn after Vincent how to 
sanctify themselves by the regular observances and ordinary every day 
duties of thrir community life. ""The Virtues and Spiritual Doctrine of St. 
Vincent de Paul" will naturally become the favorite book of spiritual lecture 
in the conferences of Si. Vincent, and the members of this widspread and 
admirable society will learn from it what true Christian charity means and 
what it imposes, will learn to kindle and keep alive in their own hearts love 
for the poor and disinterested zeal in promoting their temporal and spiritual 
welfare, and thus present to the world, in their every- lay lives, an example 
of true charity that makes them love their neighbor for God s sake. and. by 
faith, see in the poor whom they succor only the needy and suffering 
members of Christ. May, then, this little work be widely circulated and ful- 
til its mission by teaching the principles and practices of the supernatural life, 
found 3d on faith and culminating in divine charity, which is the bond of per 
fection and the touchstone (if all true religion ! May it raise up in every state 
of life imitators of Vincent de Paul, true followers of our meek and humble 
and merciful Savior! 


Buffalo, May 5th, 1877, 

TUe following letter of approbation, an honor to the author and to us a 
memorial of His Eminence, Carnidal .Xarlot, Arch-bishop of Paris is at 
tached to the original work. 

Paris, Juna 19th, 1804. 

I am grateful for your kind rememhrnnce 

and touched by your thoughtful ness in sendins "me your book pptitlfd ; 
Virtues and ti-riritual Doctrine of &<. Vincent de Paid. These pne-ps are 
most profound and edifying, and are, moreover, a n t and natural compliment 
of your history of the holy founder of the Mission. All thosn who are anxious 
to maintain themselves in the true spirit of Christianity, am! to make new 
progress in virtue, will read them with interest. Hay their number increase 
from day to day, and may the posterity of the illustrious Priest, whoso nitm* 
nerves as standard underneath which such generous devotedness is displayed, 
augment in like manner! 

Accept, my dear Abbe, the assurance of my affec 
tionate regard, 


r u 





Faith is the first requisite to approach unto God (Hcb. xi. G,) 
and to engage in His service. It is the root of all Christian 
virtue, the foundation of the entire spiritual edifice. Such is 
the dea -,hat S*. Vincent had of faith, .-ind !.e, t,hercf.>rc 
regulated his conduct according to its dictates, und made it 
the corner-stone of all his holy undertakings. 

Worn crful faith in St. Vincent! it pa: took of the simplicity 
of childhood and I lie vigor of age; it formed within him the 
principle of supernatural life, and he became the source whence 
spiang that charity which embraced the entire world. 

His was a strong faith, and like unto trees which take 
but the stronger root whun to-ssed and beaten by the winds and 
storms, a faith th grew in strength when temptations assailed. 
At Tunis, this faith resists the blandishments a:ul menatv of 
his masters ; at the court of (Jueeu Margaret it comes out vie- 


torious iVoin the temptation of unbelief which, to free ii friend, 
he luul accept^ I ; in the troubles o f .Jansenism it escapes all the 
snares of heresy ami the seductions of sectaries. " I thank 
God," did he love frequently lo say, for having preserved me 
in the integrity of faith In the midst of an ago that hr.s b"ought 
forth so many heresies and scandalous opinions, and for the 
grace of never having held any opinion contrary to that of the 
Church. By n special protection of God. notwithstanding the 
man}- dangerous occasions wherein I might, have been turned 
from the right path, I have always been on the side of truth r 

His Faith, we see, was not only strong, but. moreover, pure 
and simple, that is. resting solely on the first truth, God and on 
the authority of the Chinch. 

His: was a faith at once expansive and communicative, as are 
all Christian virtue-. It loved to diffuse itself ly means of cat 
echising and instructing, particularly among the poor peasants 
of the country ; as the ocean, it sc light to extend to all parts of 
the wi;rld. and being unable b its own direct efforts, it succeeded 
through the instrumentality of a company of Missionaries sent 
out to every infidel land. 

An aggressive faith he had, ever on the alert against eiror, a 
i aith ar:..ed with that Credo which the Saint wore as a breast 
plate ; armed with prayer which he regarded as the best de 
fense in combat, and as a source of all light and strength ; 
armed with xeal and charity to preserve from the contagion of 
evil first his children, then the religious and secular 
communities of which he was Superior, and, finally, doctors of 
divinity and bishops of the Churc .i whom he retained in the 

Ills faith was humble even in its victories. Chough," said 
tie Saint, "God gave me the grace to discern the truth from 
error, even before the definition of the Holy See. still I 
* have never 1 ad any feeling of complacency or vain joy because 
my judgment was formed in conformity with that of the Church 
fully recognixing that It was an effect of i he pure mercy of God 
towards me. to Whom, therefore. I must render all the glory." 

He possessed, finally, a full and active faith ; a faith that; en 
lightened his understanding, warmed his heart, animated his 
thoughts and affections, his words and acts, and guided him in 

everything, and everywhere, according to the truths and maxim 
of Jesus Christ; a faith that guided him not merely in things 
that referred direct 3 to God, but which he introduced i vcn into 
temporal ;nul human aifairs. He mult-rook nothing of 
which faith was not the principle, ar.d which he did not refer 
to a supernatural end. 


Such was the virtue of faith in St. Vincent; such likewise was 
the .aith that he taught others lie reprehended those who. in 
explaining Chri.-tian truth, relied unduly on the light ol sci- iicc, or 
on the strength of human reason; and those who examined these 
truths with cuiiosity and temerity did not escape his eensuiv. 
Against all he made use of this comparison: "As the more we 
fix the eye on the sun the less we see. so, in the truths of reli-- 


ion, the more we strain reason, the less we know by faith. It 
is enough that the Church proposes these truths; we certainly 
should not refuse to believe her and to submit." And he 
added: "The Church is the kingdom of God, and lie inspiics 
lur rulers with principles of good government. I Ms Holy 
Spirit presides over the councils; frou; I Inn have proceeded the 
light shed throughout the world which In* enlightened the 
saints, dazzled the wicked, dispelled doubts, rendered truth 
evident, laid bare e.-rors and disc!o>ed th : j aths wherein the 
Church in general, and each of the faithful in particular. may 
walk in safety." 

Ilis charity and moderation had reached their limit, and yet 
he was requested to exercise both towards the people of Port 
Royal. lie rimply answered: " \Vheu a dispute has been decid 
ed there is no agreement possible, save in adhering to the 
judgment given. Before these gentlemen were condemned they 
did their utmost to have error triumph over the truth, and 
unwilling ihen to listen to any terms of agieement. thcv were 
so intemperate in their desire to obtain tiie upper hand that 
resistance hardly dared olfer itself. Even since the Holy See 
has decided them they have sought to give divers con 
structions to the Papal constitutions so that their effect iright 
be evaded. And. though on the one hand they have made a 


semblance of sincerely submitting themselves to the common 
Father of the Faithful, and of receiving the constitutions in the 
real sense who re in the propositions ol Janscnius were condemned, 
nevertheless their writers, who have maintained proposit 
ions, and have written books and apologies in their defense, have, 
as yv-t, neither said nor written a word hi disavowal. AY hut 
union, then, can we have with them since they have no sincere 
intention of submitting ? AY hat moderation is possible in regard 
to what the Church has decided ? They are matters of faith alike 
incapable of alteration or arrangement, and. by consequence, 
they cannot be adjustable to the sentiments of these gentlemen. 
Theirs it is to submit, and unite with us in the same belief, and 
in a true and sincere submission to the head of the Church. 
Without this we can only pray Clod for their conversion." 

He blamed all hurry and anxiety even in the most holy works. 
for he saw therein a movement of nature and a hidden distrust 
of Providence. One day he wrote to Mademoiselle Le Gras: "I 
always see in you somewhat of human sentiment; you think all 
is lost "hen you see me unwell. Oh, woman of little faith! "why 
have you not more confidence in the guidance ami example of 
Jesus Christ? This Savior of the world confided in God, the 
Father, for 1 he state of the entire Church, and you think He 
will fail you in regard to a handful of daughters whom His 

O O 

Piovidcncc has evidently gathered together! Go, Madamo : sellc, 
humble yourself very much before God." 

Little progress in virt c and in the things of God he attributed 
to the too great confidence placed in human reasons. "No, no," 
he f aid one day, " only eternal truth is capable of satisfying the 
heart, and conducting us safely. Believe me. we have but to 
lean firmly, strongly, on Miy one of the perfections of God, such 
as His Goodness. His Providence. His Truth, His Immensity. 
we but to ground ourselves well on these foundations to be 
come perfect in a short time. Not that it is not well to convince 
by stro-.g reasoning and solid argument; these always prove 
serviceable when subservient to the truths of faith. Experience 
teaches that he who preaches according to the light of faith effects 
more in souls than he whose discourse is filled with philosophical 
arguments and scientific reasoning. And the reason is that the 
lights derived from faith are always accompanied with a certain 

heavenly unction that secretly penetrates to the heart. Hence 
\ve may judge if it be not necessary, as well for onr own perfection 
as for the salvation of souls, to follow always and in all things the 
light of faith. 

He still further taught that things should not be looked i:pon 
as they externally appear, but wen; to be considered as th\y 
appeared in the eyes of Go:l. And this he based on the word of 
the Apostle: "For the thinr/s irh ; ch arc ?e<-n at-" temporal: but the 
things which are n^t seenan- cte >?//." (2 Cor., ii., .. .) I. ought 
not," he said, "regard apo >r pea-ant or a poor woma- accord 
ing to the exterior, nor according to the intellectual capa- ity, 
more especially as oftentimes so earthly and so stupid is he. that 
he seems to possess neither the figure nor mi:ul of rational beings. 
Bnt reverse the medal, and yon will see in the light of faith that 
the Son of God, who has wished to bo poor, is represented to us 
in these poor people; that, in Ills passion. lie scarcely had the 
figure of man, and that the Gentile; consideied Him a fool, and 
the Jews a rock of scandal ; besides. He cr.lls Himself the 
evangelist of the poor: "To preach the Gospel to the pr^-r ffg 
hath s"nt Me" (Luke ii., !.) Oh, my God. how beautiful it 
is to look upon the poor, when we consider their, i; God, and 
in the esteem in which Jesus Chris* hoM 1.1-cm ! But to the 
flesh and to a worldly spirit they appear contemptible." 




Hope is begotten of faith an 1 is proportional to it. He, 
who ICHORS G- 1 1 au.l bjli vcs i i Him can hope but in Him, can 
re 1 } but on Him. \Vha tho vie. v of Divine truth disengaged 
from all Ir.imau reason ing is to faith, the goodness alone of God 
is to hope which, thenceforth, disdaining men and their earthly 
resources can v loii^r confide, no longer rest save in tho 
Divine Providence. 

Vincent so full of faith, carried his hope, after the cx-mple 
o** the father of boliever^, so far as to hope even ag.-iinst hope. 
Whan even-tiling seems 1 to fail hi:n. tlnu he hoj)ecl the more. 

In the beginning o( his motto Ihis holy hope alone inspired 
him. alone directed him in their prosecution, alone sustained 
him in the ini.Ist of difficulties and obstacles, and alone assured 
him of success. 

When there was question of undertaking anything for the 
service of (led lie commenced by having recourse to prnycr to 
know the Divine Will. Assured of thN. he began the work, and 
abandons 1 himself f> t .ie Divi n nuircvf. Without do:ibt, ac- 
ordingto the or.lor of lr. -iile:iec itself, he made use of all the 
m3:in? thit pJMlcnec sug^3stel, b:it he did not pl-n-e his reli 
ance on them, he counted only on the. assistance of Heaven. 
Even in the beginning be neg ecte;! human agencies. He first 
allowel IV,>vi<lenc to act, delaying i\* long as possible from 
mixing his action with the Divine action, so convinced was he 
that the less of man there is in any affair the more there is of 
God. Once cngpged, after this Christian manner, he feared 

HOPE AXD coxKimcxor: IN con. j 

nothing, cit .nr f >r him-elf or for his childrei 1 . In vain the 
timorous or the worldly wise majority magnified the obstacles, 
or strove to demonstrate the impossibility of the mi. lei-taking. 

il Let us allow our Lord to act " he answers, " it is 11 is wo -fc 
and as it has pleased !!im to begin it we rnav rest assured that 
lie will perfect it in the manner most pleasing to Himself. 
C,> i:M>-j.thr:i; leb us trn-it hi o:ir L >rd Wlio will 1)3 with u ; first 
and la-it in a w,)i-:c to tin ir .d jr^vc m > of wa uh llj h is calle I us." 

Then he would throw him, elf b .in lly into tli j greatest and 
most painful cnte prises, rod. sibling his eonli len^,- in God in 
the midst of dillk-ultics, as the soldier redoubles his ardor amid 
the dangers of buttle. As t!u excessive ex;)on30s undergone by 
the order of God did n:jt came him any fear of exhaust .njr the 
treasnr/ of Provideiioe, so neitluu- did the wants an I i>re.ssing 
necessities of his houses, though grieving his pateni:il heart, 
dim his hope, or alarm him in regard to the future of his 

AMlietions and disappointments, labors and pcriK far from 
subduing him, only served as o-jc-asioir-i to testify confi 
dence in do d, and to di-pc-n 1 m >re entirely aivl a -s lately 
on His will The result, moreover, of any work mattered little 
to him ; good or evil, he accepted it as coming from the hand 
of God and equally manifested gratitude for His meivy. 

And he acted in this manner not only in things <>; secondary 
interest, but also in those that he had most at heart, as ior in 
stance, the birth, continuation and incre :seof that (_ on<>- elation 

r? o 

of Missionaries that was as dear to him as life. Whilst proceed 
ings were going on at the Court of Koine for the erection of his 
band of Missionaries into a congregation, and whilst, :;t the sa ne 
time, arrangements were being mad? for the transfer of the rich 
piiorv ofSt. L-v.anis to Vincent, he said, not through presumption, 
but from Chris ian cer.ainty ofsuccess : " 1 lear but mv tins, and 
not for the success of our cause ei.herin iiomeorin Paris, neither 
for the bulls nor for the all air of St. Lazarus. Sooner or later all 
will be accomplished Tke-j lint /.(ir tit? Lord hucc In pi d . -n 
the Lord: lie i.s tlwii kc\iwr <nnl, protector. 1 " ( 1 s. cxiii, II.) 
And thai the dependence on the designs of God which presided 
at the birth of his Congregation should still preside over its ex 
tension he never wished to make, nor would he allow to be made. 


the least effort to obtain benefices, establishments, or subjects. 
Betwe< n two favorable propositions made him, he felt himself in 
duced to prefer the less advantageous; between two subjects. 
to prel er him wliose b nth was the moie humble, whose condi 
tion was the poorer, whose mind and knowledge were mediocre, 
lest in his choice there sho.ild bj anything that savored of 
upidity, of a.nbition, or of any other natural inspiration. 


To ground those under him in these maxims and in this manner 
of actfn^ he in .liise.l the:n to co:ueive a great diffidence in th-m- 
selvea. aii.l to b.:come thoroughly convinced that by their own 
efforts the;- co:il 1 do nothing save spoil everything in the work 
and designs of God. He then d .velt 0:1 the greatness of the Divine 
mercy. ""God. said he, "is a founta n wherefrom each draws 
according to his wants, lie. who needs six, takes six pailsfull, 
he who requires three, only three, and the little bird that wants 
only to m >isten its beak flies a. vay immediately after; a traveler 
must urink from the hollow of his ha ul." Impressed with this 
idea of the mercy of Go 1 he desired entire abandon! i cut to Prov 
idence, just as She child abandmn itself to its nurse "If this 
nurse places, t h<- chil.l 0:1 h-.-r right arm, the child is content; if 
she chang./ it to the left, it does not mind, and, provided it has 
the breast it is content. Lot us. then, say to ourselves: God is 
my father. Let him pnt ma on the right side, that is in peace 
and content, or on the left, which signifies the cross, it matters 
not; II will me and 1 will hope in Him. Confidence 
in G > 1 it was that he gave as a Viaticum to those he sent into the 
distant and diilicult mis-ions. "Go, Gentlemen, in the name of 
God." he :iid t!> the.n : " it ^ H who si nds you; for His service 
and ITs irlo:-v yon undertake this voyage and this mission; He, 
then will be your guide, He will protect and aid you. This we hope 
for from His infinite Goodness. Keep yourselves always in a 
firm dependence o-.; His faithful guidance; have recourse to Him 
in all places an 1 in all circumstances; throw yourselves into His 
arms, for vou should recognize H in as a tender lather, with a 
firm onlidence that HJ will assist you and bless your labors." 
Did thev rro\v v,-earv and weak under the burden, it was con- 


Sdence in God wherewith he renewed their courage. lie wrote 
to their superior: " I sympathize with 3-011 in yoi.r labors; they 
are great, and they continue increasing whilst sickness is dim- 
inislun<> i your forces It is our good Lord who does this, and 

O / 

certainly He will not leave so great a burden on 3-0111 hands with 
out aiding you to sustain it; He will, even Him sell , be your 
strength c.8 well as your recompense 1 or the extraordinary ser 
vices that, in this pressing need, you render H,m. Believe ir.e ; 
when Our Lord gives a helping hand three can effect more than 
ten ; and He always docs when He deprives us of human means 
and places us in the necessity of doin >; \vh;it is above our 
strength; we will, however, beseech His Divine G.,od-ess that it 
may be pleasing to Him to restoie your sick to health, and to 
infuse into 3-0111 community a great hope in His merry . 

lie did not wish them to lose confidence, in times of want and 
scarcit3 r . "You must not be surprised," he wrote them on these 
occasions, nor frightened because the year is b:ul. no, never, if 
man3 r be bad. God abounds in riches. Nothing has been want 
ing to you up to the present ; why, then, four for the future f 
You would like to have all provi-ion made so :\s to be assured of 
having all 3*011 desire. I say you wish so according to nature, 
for I think, that according to the spirit. 3-011 are glad to have an 
opportunity of relying on God alor.e, and. like a real poor man. 
of depending on the liberality of tlii ; Lord, who is iniini cly rich. 
May God help the poor people ;they are to be pitied in l.mes of 
distress because they do not know how to turn this time to 
their advantage, nor do th(vy seek first the kingdom of God arid 
His justice that they ma\- be made worth;- to receive the things 
necessaiy for this, over and above the succor required for 
eternal life." 

Losses the most ruinous wcie not to shake their confluence 
"All that God does He does for the best; and therefore wr-nust 
hope that this loss, since it comosfVom God, will be profitable to 
us . All things arc of benefit to thn just : and we arc assured that 
the adversities we receive from the hand of God will become : 
joy and a blessing. I pray for them, gentlemen and my dear 
brethren; let us thank God for this afl nir, for the de rivatin i of 
this property, and for the disposition He has given us to accept 


this loss for His love. The loss is great, but His adorable wisdom 
will kiMv/ how to turn it to our good, ami that in a wry that to 
us i.s, at present, unknown, but one day we will see ; yes. we 
will see. And I trust that the manner af er which you all have 
bi>ru /ourselves in the accident, so little foreseen, will serve as a 
fou. tuition to the grace God will give you, of making in futr.rc 
a penect use of all the ahTictions it will please Him to send us." 
Nor s .oul.l intrigues and persecutions trouble them any the 
more, l-e wrote: As icgards the int: igues that ft re beingear- 
ried on ag.iirst us, let us pray God to guard us from this spirit ; 
since we blame it ii others it is all the more reasonable that we 
ke p it far from ourselves. It is a fault against Divine Prov 
idence which renders those who commit it unworthy the care 
God lakes oi everything Let us establish ourselves in entire 
dependence on His holy leading, and on the ass-.irance that in so 
doing all that men will do or say against us will turn to our 
good. Yea, my dear dr. even were the entire world to rise up 
to destroy us it could do nothing but what is pleasing to God in 
wl om we have placed our hope. I. beg you to enter into these 
acntime.its, a-ul to dwell firmly therein so that hereafter your 
tmlnd will not be troubled with useless apprehensions." 

The sense of their <;wn imperfections and miseries should not, 
?iccording to him, militate against their in God. "We have 
within us," he said to them/ the germ of the omnipotence of G )1 
and this ought to be a great motive to hope and to sill our 
confidence in Him, nothwithtaiulin . all our poverty. No, we 
.must not be astonished when we see miseries among us, for each 
tins his own good share. It is well to k.;ow them, but jiot to be 
immoderately troubled by them ; it is even good to turn away 
the thought of thorn when it leads to d scouragemcnt. and re. 
double our confidence in God and our ab: ndonment into his ten 
der arm-.." Still further he wrote: "I know the fidelity find 
care you have for the work of G. d: what remains foryor, then, 
but to rest in peace? God only demands this with an humble 
it.-: lUMMucMircin the success which he gives, and wh .ch. I am sure, 
wi l be Complete HI your soul. Why , 1 hen. become discouraged! 
Von point, out to me your miseries. Alas ! and who is there that 
is no-, full of them : The only thing is to know them and to !<>ve 
the humiliation arising from them, as you do, without stopping 


save to lay a strong foundation of confidence in God; foi 
then the house is built upon a rock and when the storm comes it 
remains film. Do not b 3 afraid, then. This is your case, I know; 
for these i eelings of distrust and discouragement are but frcra 
m.ture, and net tVo in your heart, which is fur too generous forany- 
thirg like that. Let God, then, do with r.s and our works as lie 
chooses. Tl. ough our pains and troubles for me 1 : be in vain, and 
though they show only iugralitt de and contempt for r.s. still we 
will not neglect, on that account, to continue, knowing that in 
this way we fullill the law which is to love God with cur whole 
heait and our neighbor as ourselves." 

He frequently taught them this ma im : " When God begins 
to do good to acreature. He continues to do so to the end unless 
the creature beco ne unworthy." And he r-aid again: When 
God once takes a soul hi-; allections, r.o mvtter what that 
soul does, He supports it. Have you never seen a father who has 
a little child that he loves very much ? lie bears with all the 
little one pleases to do; he even at times calls upon it. Bite me, 
my child." And why thus? Because he loves that little child. 
God acts the same with us." And in conjunction, he cited the ex 
ample of their own Congregation. " Let us have confidence in 
God. gentlemen and my brethren, but let it be entire and perfects 
holding it for certain that having once begun His work in us He 
will finish it. For, I ask you. who is it that has established the 
Congregation ? who has appointed us to the missions, to the o:di. 
iiat.on-,, to the conferences, to the retreats, nnd other works in 
which we arc engaged ? Is it I ? By no means. Is it Mr. Portal! 
whom God united to me in the very beginning ? XL t :it all; for 
we did not think of them, had no design of them. And who, 
then, is tiie author cf all this? It is God, it is His paternal 
Providence, :md His pure Goodness. For wo are all pitiable 
workers and poor ignorant persons; and among us there are few. 
if any at all, who are of noble birth, powerful, learned, or capable 
of anything. It is God, then, who has done all this, :;ml who in 
doing it, made use of persons according to His own pleasure so 
that t;ll the glory should rewound to Him ; for if we place it in 
men, or if we lean on any a lva:itrge of nature, or fortune!. God 
will withdraw from us. lint, some oncMvillsay. ^emust make 
friends both for ourselves as ii.dividuals. and for the ccnnmr 


rl ity Oil ! mv brethren, lot us beware of listening to such a 
th;.;i4ht tor \ve will be deceived. Let us seek solely God; he 
will provide us with friends and with nil else, in such a way that 
we will want for nothing. Do you wish to know why we do not 
sue.- v 1 in such, or su- h an employment 1 It is because we lean 
too .u.iAi upon ourselves This pivarher, that superior, this eon- 
t osioi- trusts too niiicii in his prudence, in his learning, iu himself. 
What does God do ? lie withdraws :roin him; He leaves him 
there ; and though he works, all that he does produces no fruit, 
that thus, he may recognize his OTII usclessness, and learn from 
his own experience that, no matter how talented, he can do no 
thing without God." 

We must let God act. then; we must intrigue for no favor, not 
be sollickous, we should fear nothing. On this subject he wrote 
to one of his priests in Home. "Every day you give me reason 
to piaiso God for your affection for the congregation and your 
care fur its affairs ; and I do with all my heart : but I must like 
wise say to yo;i. as our Lord said to Martha, there is a little too 
much sollicittide in your action, and that only one thing is 
necessary, namely to allow more to God ar.d His direction than 
you do. Fore ight is good when it is subject to Him; but it goes 
to excess w .ien we become anxious to avoid anything we fear : 
we lune more from our own care than from His Providence, and 
we imagine we do a great deal in anticipating His orders by our 
disorder which causes us to trust rather in human prudence than 
in His word. This divine Savior assures us in His Gospel, that 
u ii her the little spariow. nor even a single hair of our head will fall 
withoui H s permission; ami you fear our congregation will not be 
abb to maintain itsel if we do not use such and such precaul ions, 
a;.d if we do not do this thing and that ; so that should we defer 
doin- it others will come ai;d establish themselves upon our ruins. 
So soon as a design against us appears we must oppose it; should 
anyone wish to profit by our moderation we must be beforehand 
with h m.el call is lost. Tais is nearly the sense of your letters ; 
:in .l, what is worse, your quick, lively disposition urges you 
to nut as you speak, ami in your enthusiasm you think yon possess 
sufficient light without having need to receive any from others. 
O .i ! my dear sir. how little this proceeding becomes a mis 


He took delight in frequently citing the example of Abraham 
as one of perfect confidence. "You remember this grand old 
patriarch whoso son. God had promised, was to [)eople the entire 
earth ? And yet He commands him to saer fiee this son Where 
upon any person might have said : If Abraham put his son to 
-death how is God to fulfill His promise ? This holy man, however, 
who had a jeustomod his mind to submit to all the wishes ofGod. 
disposes himself to execute tho order without putting himself in 
pain about anything else. It is the alfair of God. might he have 
said, to think of everything; if I execute His command He will 
fulfill His promise But how? I do not know; it is enough 
to know that He is All-Powerful; I am going to otter Him what I 
hold most dear in the world since He wishes it But it is m\- only 
son Xo matter But, in taking the life of this child. I will de 
prive God of the means of keeping His word ? It is all the same; 
He desires it ; it must be done. But if I preserve him my race 
will i;e blessed. God ha< said Yes, but He has also said I should 
put him to death; He has manifested it to me ; I will obey Him, 
no matter what Inppens. and I will hope in His promise.; Ad. 
mire this confidence; he is in no Ironble about what will happen. 
And yet the p.ffair concerned him very nearly ; but he hopes all 
will go well since God takes part in it. Why should not we. 
gentlemen, have a like confidence if wo leave to God the care of 
ail that concerns us, and if we prefer that which He commands: 

In this connection, too, will we not admire the fidelity of the 
children of Jonadab, son of Kachc! ? lie was a good man who 
received an inspiration from God to live in a manner different 
from other men, to dwell in a tent and not in a house. He aband 
ons, therefore, the one that he has. Behold him now in the 
country: here the idea strikes him to plant no vine so as not to 
drink wine ; and in fact he plants none and never after drank wine, 
lie forbade his children to sow wheat or other gr. ins, to plant 
trees, or to cultivate gardens. See. then, they are all without 
bread, without grain, without fruit. What, then, will you do. 
my poor Jonadab ? 

" Do you imagine that either you. or your family, can subsist 
without eating ? \Ve will eat, he says within himself, -what 
^ver God will send. This seems very hard; even ihcpooiest 


religions orders do not cany the spirit of renunciation to such a 
degree. However, be that as it may, the confidence of this nuin 
was such that he deprived himself of a ; l the commodities oft!. is 
life ! > depend absolutely, he and his children. on the care of Divir.e 
Providence. And they continued in this way for three hundred 
and fifty years ; that is he, his children, and "his children s child 
ren. This was so agreeable to God that, complainitlg to Jciv- 
mias of the hardness of his people abai doned to their pleasures, 
he tells him : " G<) t-> how obrltirctlps, <m:l ic.ll them there, is a. man 
u ho does this. cv. " 

" Jeremias, then, to verily the extreme abstemiousness of tlio 
father and his children causes the Ilechabites to be b ought to 
him. lie sets a table, and places thereon bread, and wine. and 
glasses. When they are come he says to their: I am c- nnniss- 
ioned by God to bid you d;ink wine And we. answered the 
Rechabites, have a command not to drink ; for solon<_v a time 
we have not drunk, our fatlr r having forbidd.-n it. Xow-.ifthis 
father had so great a confidence that God would provide for the 
subsistence of his f-m:ly that he gave hi in ;<.- f no trouble, and if 
the children were so careful in faithfully carrying out the inten 
tions of their father oh, gentlemen, what confidence should not we 
have, that, no nvi te in what state God may place us He will 
provide us with :dl that is necessary ! What is our fidelity to 
rule in comparison with t at of these childivn wh-;, otherwise, 
were not obliged to abstain from the comforts oft! is life, and yet 
practised such poverty ? Oh. my Go 1! gentlemen. Oh my God! 
my Brethren. Ictus ask o! His D.viur Goodne s u great con 
fidence in Him no matter what h;i;>pc>n-; in on: regard. Provided 
We be faithful to H in nollrngwill i e wan .ing t:; u ; Hewill Him 
self live in us. He will conduct us, defi-nd and love M- ; all that 
we say, all that we do. all will be acceptable to him " 

" Look at the bir s. They neither sow. ir.-r reap ; yet God 
sets a table for them everywhere; He gives tl-em clothing an.! 
nourishment. He extends His Pio/idence to the (lowers of the 
field, to the lilies n-hov ornaments are so m-i^-ili -ent Ih-it 
Solomon in all his glory ha<l nothing simMar. Now. it God thus 
cares for the birds and plants why will you not trust, in -i G xl so 
good and so provident ? What ! will you inist rarher in your 
selves than in Him ? And ye^, you well k;;o\v that He can do all, 


and you nothing ; notwithstanding this, yon dare confide in your 
own endeavors rather than in His goodness, in your poverty 
rather than in Flis wealth . Oh misery of man !" 

" I will say here, however, that Superiors are obliged to look 
after the want? of each individual and provide all that is necersary ; 
and as God takes care to furnish all His creatures, even the little 
midge, with wh:,t is necessary, He wishes that superiors and ofli- 
ccrs, as instruments of His P ovidence. would sec that nothing he 
wanting, either to the priests, clerics, or to the brothers; either 
to a hundred persons, two hundred, thre:> hundred, or more, were 
they in the house; either to the little or to the great. But my 
Brethren, yon in your turn should quietly rest in the loving care 
of the same Divine Providence for your maintenance, and content 
yoi rselves with what it gives without seeking to kno .v whether 
the community has it or not ; nor should you tioublc voi, rselves 
about anything except to seek first the kingdom of God. fur 
His infinite Wisdom will supply all the rest," 

v Not long ago, I asked a Carthusian, who is prior of :i house, 
if, for the government of their temporal matters, they called a 
council of the religious? We summon, he answered me, the 
officers, such as the superior and the procurator; the others have 
1:0 concern; they occupy themselves only in chanting the praises 
of God and in doing what obedience and the rule prescribe. 
With us, thank:; be to Gud. the same practice holds. Let us con 
tinue (inn in it; we, too, are obliged to possess property and to 
care for it in order 1o meet all demands. There was a time when 
the Son of Cod -ent his disciples without money or provisions ; 
afterwards He judged it proper to have wherewith to maintain 
his company r-nd t:> assist the poor. The Apostles continued in 
the same way; and St. Paul says of himself that he lr. bored with 
his own hands, :;nd that he collected for Christians who were in 
want. It b; longs, then, to superiors to watch over the ni.-uiao-e- 
iiKMit of the house; but let them care, also, that this vigilance over 
temporal things do not lessen th:it which regards virtue; and lot 
them n-.anage so that the spiritual life will he vigorous in their 
houses, and that God will there reign o\vr evrvthin"-. This 
should be their first object." 

He rave the .same advice, and prescribed the same conduct 


for persons from without, who came to consult him . Put away 
froni you;- mind whatever causes you pain. "he told them, " Go;l 
will take cure of it. You cannot allow yourself any anxiety in 
rcgf.rd to this matter without, so to speak, saddening the heart 
of Gol. because H> sees you do not honor Him sufficiently with 
holy confidence. Trust in H in, I beseech you, and you will 
obtain the accomplishment of all that your heart desires. I say 
again, cast aside all those thoughts of mistrust which you some 
times entertain. And why ; hould not your soul be full of con 
fidence bincc by His mercy it is the dear daughterof our Lo:d ?. . . 
Oh ! how great are tiie treasures hidden in holy Providence, :ind 
how sovereignly do they w!i,> f >llow, b;it do not crowd it, honor 
our God. ,1 recently hear,! a noble, high in power. ^ ay he 
had thoroughly learned this truth from his own experience, for he 
had never undertaken ly himself but four things, and these in 
stead of advantage brought him injury. Is it not true that, you is but reasonable, your .servant should nevrr undertake 
anything without you, or your order ? And if this be reasonable 
in i:::in with his fellow how much more so is it in the 
Creator, \vilh His civaiuio:" 

lie did not believe there could be excess of confidence in God. 
Said he: ".Just as you cairiot believe too firmly in the truths of 
faith, so. too, it is impossible to hope too much in God. It is 
true, we may be deceived either in hoping for that which God 
has not promised, or in hoping for what he has promi.-ed only 
voider condition, when we are unwilling to fulfill the condition : 
as for instance a sinner hopes for pardo:: and yet does not wish 
to forgive his bn ther ; he asks for mercy and will not change 
his life ; he hopes to overcome temptations and yet neither com 
bats nor resists them. All such hopes are false and illusory ; 
but true hope founded on the goodness of God ar.d on the merits 
of .Jesus Christ can never be too great." 

With such principles, both in heart and mind, the Saint nat- 
urady combated in others, as in himself, all temptation tod< spair. 
lie wrote, on this point, to an ecclesiastic who confided to 
his troubles. "I hope, then since you wrote your letter. God 
has dissipated the clouds that overshadowed you ; hence, I will 
f&y but a word in j assing. It seen s to me yon have some doubt 


y r 

whether you are of the hatnber of the elect. To which I will 
answer that, though !, be true that no person, without a special 
revelation from God, possesses infallible marks of his predestina 
tion yet. according to the testimony of St. Paul, there are marks 
whereby to know the true children of God so probably that 
there is scarcely room for doubt. And these marks, my dear 
Sir, I see in you, by the grace of God ; the very letter whs rein 
you tell me you do not see them discloses a number of them, and 
my long- acquaintance with you points out the others. Believe 1 
me. Sir, I do not know a soul more given to God. nor a he::rt 
more free from evil and more ardent for good than your own 
Bui, you tell mo, it does not appear so to you. .And I answer 
that God does not al \vays allow his chosen ones to discern, amid 
the movements of corrupt nature, the purity of their interior, so 
that tiif-y may have occasion to hum ! le themselves without 
ceasing and that their treasure, being hidden, may be in greater 
security- The holy Apostle had seen the wonders of Heaven ; 
but he did not for this reason consider himself justified, for he 
perceived within himself too much darkness, ioonxanj- struggles. 
Still he had .--uch confidence in God that he thought nothing ?n 
the w< rlu capable of separating him iVom the charity of .h--u> 
Christ. This example, Sir, ought to suffice to keep you in peace 
amidst your doubts, and to give you an entiie and perfect 
couiidiv.icc :n the infinite goodness of Our Lord. Who, desirous of 
completing the work of your sanctifteatioa, you to cast 
yourself into the hands of His Providence. Let His paternal 
love conduct you, then, for Me loves you ; and so far from 
rejecting a man of virtue, ;;s you arc, on the contrary He 
never abandons a sinner that hopes in His mercy." 

But it was to his Missionaries and to his Daughters of Charity 
that he took pleasure in recommending Confidence in God. To 
the Missionaries he said : " The true Missionary ought never 
be in trouble about the good, of this world, but should throw all 
bis cares on the Providence cf the Lord, holding it for certain 
that, while he is well established in Charity, and well grounded 
in this confidence, he will always be under the protection of God. 
and cons?quently,no evil can come to him, and no good can fail 
him, even when he imagines, according to appearances, that all is 


going to ruin. I do not say this of myself; it is the Sacred 
Scriptures tlmt teach it, and th:it declare: Hi- that dwd/cth in tlw 
a { d "f the J/w.s/ FH jh sh II abidf, under the. jtroteclinn of the God <>f 
Iharcn 1 (Ps. xc, I.) Me who abides in the confidciK c 
of Cod will ever he favored with a special protection, and in 
this .state he should deem it certain that no evil will befall him, 
becau -e for him all things work to his benefit, and no good will 
be wanting since God, giving Himself to -im, brings all 
necessary goods, both for body and so;i!. And he::ce, my 
Brethren, you should hope that, whilst you remain constant in, not. only wdl you be i>reserved from all evil, and 
all sad accidents, but also that 3011 will abound in all kinds of 

This Mime confidence he counselled to the Daughters of 
Charity by citing the instances of special prelection with which 
God favored them in perilous circumstances. One of them 
came forth unhurt from the ruins of a falling house. lie 
sa : d to them: "Can God show you better how accept 
able to Him is the service you render Him in the persons 
of the poor : Is there anything more evident ? A new house 
falls, thirty live or forty persons are found crushed beneath its 
ruins, ;u>d this Daughter, who with her soup was in the 
same hou*\ on a corner of the steps that Providence, it seems, 
supported expressly to sustain her, esca; es all harm; she comes 
out of this danger safe and sound. We must believe that the 
angels drew her thence ; for what probability is there that 
men did it ? They, indeed, lent their :,id, but the angels were 
necessary to sustain her. Oh, what protection! Do you think, 
my Daughters, that it without a purpose God permitted this 
house, entirely new, to fall ? Do you think it was but by chance 
i! fell just when o\:r Sister was within ? Do you think it was by 
good luck she escaped without injury? Oh, no. not ;\t all. All 
that is miraculous ; God had pre-ordained all that to prove to 
your company the care, he takes of it. Another time it was a 
(loor that gave away in the house of the Sisters, just at the mo 
ment that there wr.s no person eithe;- 0:1, or under it, " Ah My 
Laughters" said the Saint on this occas on "what reason have not 
we to trust in God ? We read in history of a man bung killed in 


the open fields by a turtle, dropped on his head by an eagle, 
and we sec to-day houses entirely overturned, and Daughters 
of Charity corirng from under the ruins without the slight 
est injury. What is this if not a mark and a testimony, 
wherein- God wishes to show them that they are a? 
dear to Him as the apple of His eye 1 Oh My Daughters, rest 
assured that provided you keep within your hearts this holv 
confidence, God will preserve .you, no matter where ycii be." 


l.OVK FOll GOD. 


Love is nil interior, and thy eye of Him above thr.t penetrates 
to the depth of hearts sees its ardor and its flame. However, 
from this inner hearth, us from a subterranean lire, dart forth 
sparks which reveal it to the eyes of men. 

Vincent s love for God manifested itself, in the first place, by a 
perfect obedience to His holy law. It is the Apostle of charity 
himself who has said : " Whosoever Iceepeih llixicorrl, Uie charity 
of Go l is trubj ; arfect in. lu iir." (I John ii., : !), and again, 
For tJiit As- tlu di irllij of God Hint we keep His commandments.* 
(I John vi., :>;. Vincent v,-as the 1 ving lav,- of God ; every 
thing in his body, as in his soul, all his thoughts, all his affec 
tions, all his words and all his actions were regulated by the 
LwofGod. and his life was a continual holocaust consumed 
by the lire of Divine Love. 

Again, this love manifested itself by his ardent, continuous and 
efficacious desire to have God known mure and more, to have 
Him adored, served, obeyed, loved and glorified at all times, in 
ftll places and by all creatures ; a desire that frequently escaped 
him in such ike ardent aspirations : (), my Lord ! O, my Savior ! 
O, Divine Goodness . O, my God ! When wilt Thou grant us the 
grace to be entirely Thine, and to love but Thee alone. 

It manifested itself in his words which, coming jYoin his heart, 
testified by their burning accent how bright was the fire within. 
Of Vinceut.iis of Charity inearnate itself, his hearers said : --Were 
not our haavts burning within us whilst he discourse;! with us?" 
This, t .i? wife of the I resident. Do Lannoi >;no:i. addressing the 


Dutche.-s of Mantua, expressed one day in a meeting of the Ladies 
of Charity, exclaiming: "Well, Madam, might we not say, with 
the disciples of Emmaus, that our hearts glowed with the ardor 
of Divine Love while Mr. Vincent was speaking to us?. For my 
part, though little sensible to the things of God, I assure yon 
my heart is all aflame with what the holy man has just said. " 
" It is not astonishing," replied Mary Do Gonzaga, " he is an 
.iin<>-el of the Lord bearing en his lips the a: dent coals of that 

O o * 

Divine love which burns in his heart." That is very true," added 
u third, and it depends only upon ourselves to parlk-ipato in the 
ardor of that same love." In the ecclesiastical conferences he 
producef.Mhe same impression. "As we eageily listened to hi& 
words," Bossuet has related, "there was not one who did not feel 
the accomplishment of the words of the Apostle, St. Peter: -If any 
one sjicak, kt him ._/>f/i; a-s the icoi da of (frd," (1 Peter iv., 11). It 
was at the conclusion of one of these conferences that Tronson, 
Superior of the Seminary of St. Sulpice, in a transport, cried out : 
" Behold, there is a man all filled with the spirit and the love of 
God." Many came to the conferences only to hear him, and they 
went away saddened whenever his modesty had forbidden him 
speech. Bishops of the highest renown were often present. When 
through humility and respect, Vincent yielded to them the 
conclusion of the exercises, which, in the quality of director, by 
the regulations and by usage, belonged to him, they refused in 
ordei not to bo deprived of the happiness of hearing him. One 
day, the most venerable of them said to him: "Mr Vincent 
you iniust i;ot deprive the company by your humility of the good 
thoughts with which God has inspired you on the subject in quest- 
tion. There is a certain indescribable unction of the Holy 
Ghost in your words that touches every one ; moreover, these 
gentlemen pray yon to impart your views, for one word from 
you will have more effect than all that we can sa} ." And. on 
leaving the conference after having heard him, they used to say 
to the missionaries: "You are, indeed, happy in seeing and 
hearing daily a man so iille:! with the love of God." 

This love manifested itself, finally, in the rectitude and purity 
of l:is intentions which tended, i;: the least ::s in the greatest 
t.hin<>>-, solely and incessantly to the glory of God. 



And purity of intention was precisely the means he employed 
to form in his disciples a love for God. Ho said to them: "God 
does not look so much to the exterior of our actions as to the 
degree of love and purity of intention with vhich we perform 
them. Little actions are not so subject to vain glory as are more 
brilliant ones, which often end in a puff of smoke. AVe must, 
accustom ourselves to please God in. little things if we wish to 
be acceptable to Him in all our actions." 

From this we may judge of his horror of anything done through 
human respect. One of his missionaries in Rome, thinking to 
imp. ess tlu 1 Cardinals favorably, wished to commence with their 
provinces in giving the mission?. Vincent, to whom he had 
communicated his ! noughts answered :."(), my .Jesus ! my dear 
Sir, may G.xl preserve us from ever doing anything with such 
base views ! His divine Goodness demands that we should never 
do any good work,, anywhere, in order to be esteemed, but that. 
on the contrary, in all our actions we regard Him directly, 
immediately, and solely. I take this opportunity, prostrate in 
spirit a" your feet, and for the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ to ask 
of you two tilings: the first is that you avoid as much as possible- 
all de-die of appearing ; and the second, that you never do any 
thing out of human respect. In accordance with this request it 
is but entirely proper that you honor for some time the hidden 
life of Our Lord. There must be something precious in the hid 
den life, since the Son of God,, before making Himself known- 
lived for thirty years as a poor artisan And on humble begin. 
ni .i<> s lie always bestows more grace than on those that are sur- 


rounded with pomp and magnificence. You will ask me. perhaps ; 
what will they think of us at this cov.rt, and what will they say of 
us in Paris Permit them, my dear sir, to say and think of us as 
they please, and do rest assured that the maxims of Jesus Christ 
and the examples of His life are not unavailing ; that tht\Y will, 
bear their fruit in proper season; that what, is not conformable to 
them is vain and that he who is iMiin-ated with contrary maxims 
will fail in all he undertakes. This is my belief, and it is my 
experience. Ln the name of God then, .sir. .regard it as infallible 
and cherish retirement. " 


It would be better," he said again, "to be bound hand and foot 
and cast i:ito a burning fire than to do anything to please men." 
And then the better to show the injustice, and foil} of those who 
act through human moth es. he contrasted the perfections of the 
Civator with the miseries of creatures and added: " Let us r.lways 
honor the perfections of God. let us take for models of what we 
have to do, tho?c that are ir.ost opposed to our imperfections; 
as His Meokue-ys an 1 Clcmo .K-y directly opposed to our wrath and 
anger, His KiK>wlclgc, so contrary to our ignorance, His grandeur 
anl in "mi to Majesty, so far above our lowness and vileness. His 
Infinite Goodliest ever opposed to our malice. Let us stiive to 
perform actions in honor of that perfection that is directly con 
trary to our defects " The value and worth of what we do de 
pend according to him on the intention and end we have in 
view. " For," he said, "just as garments are, ordinarily, not so 
much pri/ed for the material from which hey are made, as for 
the laces of gold and rich embroideries, the pearls and precious 
stones wiih which thev are adorned, so we must not bo content 
with doino- o;ood works, we must also elevate and enrich them 

O O 

with the merit of a noble and holy intention, doing them solely 
to please and glorify- God." He concluded with the words of the 
GosjH, " Seek firxt t. /c Kinr/dom of God. commenting as 
follows: " Our Lord, in these words, recommends us to make 
God reign within US/MK! then to c o-opcratc with Him in extend 
ing ii 1 id cnlurginir His Kingdom by the conquest of souls, 
it no!- a grout honor to bo called to aid in so immense and so im 
portant a design ? Is it not doing as the angels, who labor in 
cessantly, ?ir,d o"ly for the extension of the Kingdom of God ? 
What-, then. My Brethren, will hiucbr us from corresponding 
worthily with so holy and sano i lying a volition ?" 

1IU practical goo:l sense, always koaping in tho ju-c middle, 
would have no excess, evou in the love of GcL He has left 
us a beautiful conference on this subject. At tha conclusion 
of a r-p?tition of pruy.r. in Auga=u, I ."> , ho expressed himself 
in those- terms : -It is certain that Charity, when it dwells in 
si soul, rak -s complete possession of all 1^3 powers. i hero is 
no rest, it is an ever devouring fire. The person who is OMCC 
touched by ir, is continually in movement, always in action. 
O, .My Saviour! tho memory wishes to remember only God, it 


loathes oilier thoughts, and considers them u torment; it must,. 
l>3 7 every possible means, render His presence familiar. Such :i 
means is not good, others must bo tried. If I cm:ld only 
practice this devotion, I would succeed. It must be done. But 
I have still that oilier devotion; how harmonize both ? No 
matter; I will perform both. And when this new devotion is 
taken up, others are sought after, and st.ili others. The poor- 
soul c-m braces 1 all, and yet is not content. It surpasses its 
strength, it becomes overburdened, and believes it can never 
do enough. 0, My Stveet Saviour, what will become oi it? The 
will cominues all infUimx! and is called upon to produce such 
frequent acts (hut. it can no longer comply; there are.- acts 
upon ac-ts redoubled at every moment, and in every place, in 
the refectory, even in conversation and in. company. In a 
word, here, there, everywhere; there is nothing but ardor, bul 
tiro and Same?, but incessant acts. The .soul is almost beside 
itself. ! but luv.v dangerous and imprudent, are these exer 
cises, this eagerness, this seal! But what! Can thciv l:e 
imprudence in loving Cod ? Can v/e love Him too much ? 
or can we even love enough a God who is infinitely 
umiable? K.o, indeed. 0, My Saviour, My God! Who 
can ascend to that astonishing love you bear us a love 
that shed for us. miserable creatures, fill Your blood, a 
single drop ol which, is of infinite price. Still, though God 
commands us to love Him with our whole heart, and with all 
our strength, we must remember that His Goodness does not 
wish this love, by its multitude of acts, to impair and ruin our 
hea th. For, in this state, the blood warms, and burning with 
those- ardors it siMids hot vapors to the brain which in turn is 
soon afire. Thenfoiloiv dizziness, dullness, heaviness, a3 if a 
weight were oppressing the brain : the organs grow wealc, and 
the person becomes powerless, helpless, until death, which is 
very much hastened, intervenes. It seems this ought to be de 
cried. To die after this manner is to die a most, bciiutiful 
death, it is to die of love ; ii: is the happy IOL of a martyr, a 
martyr of love. It seems that these blessed souls can apply to 
themselves the words of the Spouse, and say with her: " Thou 
host wounded my heart;, it is T.hon, loving Cod, Who hast 


nvoundedme; it is Thou WJwJM&picreedttnd burned my bear t with 
Thy fury darts!" Oh, bo forever blessed, ! My Saviour! 
Am on <r the sacrifices that were offered to God under the Old 
Law, the Holocaust was the most excellent, because th? victim, in 
.ackuowldgemcnt of the sovereignly or God, was burnt, was 
entirely consumed on the altar, no portion being reserved. In 
like manner these souls seem to be holocausts entirely consumed 
by the 6 re of Divine Love. And yet iu it much belter not to 
become so strongly affected, not to turn the head in order to 
make ihis virtue so sensible, and, as iL were, a part of iv.ituiv. 
For, at last, after all those vain efforts, wo must relax, we must 
let go our hold; and then beware, beware that we fall not into 
a stale worse than tlio one in which we were, into a condiiion, 
from which St. Paul tclis us it is impossible, that is, extremely 
difficult, to rise. Yes. here is what often results from these 
excesses: a disgust for all species of devotien, a distast? for 
virtue, a distaste for the most holy things. This excess takes 
place in beginnings. When, we commence to taste the sweet 
ness of devotion we can never satiate ourselves, we think it 
impossible ever to have enough, we plunge too Tar a head <^ Oh, 
ihis is too m. ch, this is too much ! Very often the Devil turns 
this into temptation for us. When ho cannot induce us di 
rectly to commit evil, he inspires us to undertako more pract 
ices of piety than we can ivgnlate, and overburdens us 
continually until we break down under too great a we glu. 
My Brethren, virtues arc always in n just middle, and each 
virtue has two equally vicious extremes, between which, dcilcct- 
ing neither to the right nor to the left, we must walk , if 

O O 

we wish o;;r actions in be worthy of praise. BL> neither carried 
away, nor cowardly; mortify nature but do not destroy it. 
Such is the will of God. He is so good and so just thai Ho re 
quires nothing nioiv. He well ki)o.vs our wretchedness, lie 
takes pity on us and supplies, \y His mercy, for our defects. 
We must ac; with Him in entire simplicity, and not give our- 
gjhvstoo much uneasiness. I remember a word o! the Bishop 
o: 1 Geneva on this subject, mid one every way worthy of so great 
a man: Oh, I would not want to go to God, if God would notx 1 " 
.come to me. licmiii-kable utterance, and coming from one 


thoroughly enlighten eel in the science of the love oi God! 
According to this, then, a sonl truly affected \vi:h eliarry, 
understanding what it is to love Gxl, would not desire to go 
to God if God did not anticipate -it and attract it by His 
grace. This is very far removed from wishing tr> seize- Him 
and draw Him by foree of arms and strength of machinery. 
No, no, nothing is gained, hi such c.i?ec, l>y force. When 
God wishes to commitment; 1 himself, He does so without 
effort, after a sensible, sweci, quiet und loving manner." 




Love unites hearts ; but it unites especially wills. Hence 
the gre-Mlcst proof of true love for God is submission caul con 
formity to His most Holy Will. 

As was the love, so, consequently, was the submission oi St. 
Vincent do Paul. No one, before tiding, ever asked with more 
simplicity: "Lord what will Thou have, nr to do ? (Acxa 
ix, (i). None ever separated with more care, in till his 
thoughts, in all his afibctions, all that came iVom man from 
that which came from God, in order to cast aside the one. and 
adhere to the other. None, daring the course of tin action, or 
enterprise, ever regulated himself moro constantly according 
to the plan (raced out by the Divine Will. He practice"! this 
conformity to the will of God, not only in regard to his own 
personal conduct, but also in all hi? good works tor his 
neighbor, and in all that related to his congregation. Lr-st he 
nrg .it anticipate God lie never took Iho initiative- in any 
project or inundation, and before commencing to act he 
awaited an external impuLsc whish he looked npi>n as the 
invitation and approbation oi Providence. If there were 
question of subjects, or of an establishment, or of a temporal 
advantage lor his community, he a -ceptcd it only as from the 
hand oi God ^hidi lie pcrcoived both in the nature and 
circumstances ol the proposition made ; and if ho, afterward, 
labored to preserve the goods he had received it was simply 


because God so wished ii; for respect, gratitude and love for 
the giver require that we prize and utilize his gil is. His 
invariable law was to await the Divine Will and never to fore 
stall it, when known (o render obedicnee to it as to a sover 
eign, lo follow ir, no matter at what cost, be it of lahor, or of 
property, or of honor, or, even if necessary, of lii e itselL 
When once he knew this wiil, either by interior inspiration or 
by a n external command or counsel, he straightway conformed 
his own to it and directed all his intentions, which he was 
carci nl to renew from time to time, lest anything foreign should 
glide in. Ho submitted with paiience and resignation, 
nay m:>r?, with j.>y and affection, sacrificing all his na 
tural repugnances, to this will as revealed to him in 
events that arc absolutely of its own domain, such as sickness,. 
losses, afflictions, and all the other accidents of this life. 

Iies ; gn;itiou to the good pleasure or God, no matter how 
painful, i?, in truth, a sign of submission to Mis Adorable Will 
In the most distressing events but a single AvorJ, " God be 
blesstd, God be blessed, th; periect expression of his acquies 
cence in the dispositions of Providence, came r rom the lips, or 
rather from, the heart oi St. Vincent. 

But above and beyond resignation there is still something 
that subdues, but does iiot des roy, nature; and this is holy 
indifference. Vincent went to such a degree of obedience to 
the will of God that he accomplished it both in h.s person 
and in Iris works. IIjaHh or sickness, life or death, all 
was equal. lie took, with indifference, nourishment, remedies,, 
even those for which he had the greatest repugnance, or those 
he knew to be unsuitable for him, being no less content, 
with the evil effects than with the happiest results. 

luditf.Tont in regard to himself, be was none the less so in 
regard to !he growth and progress of his congregation. He 
was tokl that to obtain good subjects he should establish his 
congregation in large cities. He answered: " We can take no 
steps towjrds establishing ourselves in any locality whatever 
if we desiro to follow the ways of God and the usages of the 
ongivgarion;for, up to the present time, His Providence has 
called us to those places where we now are, without our having 


sought them rither directly or indirectly. Now, it is impossiMc- 
that this resignation to God which keens us in dependence on 
His direction be not vrry agrecablcto Him, more particularly 
since it, destroys the promptings of nature, v.hich under pro! ex t 
ol zeal lor the glory of God, often urge us to undertake projects 
thai He neither inspires nor hlesscs. He knovv s what is suitable- 
for us, and if, like true children, we abandon ourselves to so good 
a Father, He will give it to us at the proper momonr. Certainly 
were wo pnrsuaded of our unprofitableness, we would be far 
from meddling in the work of another, unless invr-J, and 
would use no means to have ourselves preferred toothe:- Uiborera. 
whom, perhaps, God has destined for tlie work." 

A proposal very advantageous to his community was made 
him ; and he answered, on the 130th cfJanuary. 1G5G : I think we 
will do well to lee that attair rest for awhile in order !o blunt 
the impetuosity of nature which wants profitable things done 
immediately, as al?o to exercise ourselves in holy indifference, 
and allow Gur Lord to make known His will, whilst, in the 
mciintimc, we will recommend the matter to Him in pravcr. 
If He will the thing to DC done, the delay will hurt nothing, 
and the less we appear in it the moro will He be present." 

The dr-ath of his best missionaries, of his dearest children,, 
could not remove him from his beloved indifference. He 
recommended them, whilst sick, to the prayers of the cornmu-. 
nily, in this wis?: " Wo will pray God that it may be pleasing 
lo Him to preserve this good missionary, submitting ourselves, 
however, entirely to His Divine Will. For we must believe,, 
and it 13 truo, that not only this sickness but. also the maladies 
ot o!hers,and in a word, all that happens to the congregation is 
done but by His holy direction and for the good of the 
congregation. Hence in praying to God for health for the sick, 
and for relief in other, necessities, let it he always with the 
condition, if such be his goo;l pleasure and for his greater 
glory. " His invariable formula in announcing their death s 
was: "It ha? pleased God to deprive us of such a missionary." 
And he added: "I have no doubt but that the death of this 
person, who was dear to us, h:;s aojoied 113 deeply ; but, God 
be praised, you have also (old Our Lord He has done well to 


take him from us and that you would not wish Him to have 
done otherwise, since such was His good pleasure." 

St. Vincent reduced this conduct,so admirable in submission 
and holy indifference, to theory in his Maxims, in the letters lie 
wrote and in the instructions which he addressed to his com 
munity. "To conform," said he, in ;.ll things to the will 
of God, and to take pleasure only in iUs to lead the li?;M>f an 
aiiscl on earth, it is even to live the life ol : Jesus C.irist 


Our Lord is in continual communion with those virtuous 
s mils who hold themselves iaithfully :md constantly united 
to His Holy Will, who have no other will but His." 

This doctrine came from his distrust in men and his confi 
dence in God. He said: " In regard to Divine things I 
place no more reliance in human mrans than I would in the 
assistance of the Devil. The things of God are done by 
themselves, and truv wisdom consists in following Providence 
step by step. And let us convincs ourselves of the truth of a 
maxim that appears paradoxical: That, h?,who hurries in the / 
things of God, recedes. (To Coduing, loth of May, 104:5, 
and Gth of Auo-. 104!.) Aga n: A weathercock is no more 
subject to the movement of the air than is the spirit of man to 
external agitation. . . . God bo praised i or having willed 
that all earthly things be uncertain mid pn-ishable, in order 
that in Him alone we would seek stability for our projects and 
our works, (or, then, all that, happens wi l turn to our profit." 
(20th and 31st of Aug. 1057.) " .May it be pleasing, ihei;. to 
the goodness of God to give us part in the eiernal thought 
which he Has of Himself whilst perpetually governing this 
world and providing for the needs ol all His creatures even to 
the smallest insect. Oh ! how we must, labor to acqiriro a par 
ticipation in this spirit. ( To Portail. Siitli of Aug. K;3S.) 
And he explained further this government of Go.l to which we 
must submit, and subordinate our conduct: GJC! is not 
governed in His u- rks according to our v;r,vs and desires. 
We should content ourselves to turn to best account Ihc li tie 
talents that He has placed in our hands, without desiring to 


have greater. If we be faithful in small things II j will place 
us over more import-nit ; but that is His concern, not, ours. Let 
Him act. and let us withdraw ourselves still further into our own 
shell. The cougrcg ttion was begun without any intention on our 
p u-t,ir has been uiuHr/lied by tho ban:! OJL God .ilone.and hasboen 
called everywhere by superior orders, without onr contributing 
in anything save obedience. For more than twenty years I 
did not dare ask ol God the extension and propagation of the 
congregation, considering that,i: it be His work, to Hb Provi 
deuce alone should be left the care of its conservation and in 
crease. But by dint ol thinking of the recommendation wlroh 
is given us in the Gospel, to ask Him lo s?nd laborers into His 
harvest, I have become satisfied of the importance and un liiy of 
this devot ion. Let us continue it. God Avill receive this aband 
onment as very agreeable, and we will be in peace. The spirit 
of the world is very rostL-ss, and desires to do every thing. 
Let us leave it there; we do no 1 wish to choose our path, but 
to walk in (hat which it is pleasing to God to point out to us. 
Let us esteem ourselves unworthy to be employed or that men 
should think of us; we will bo happy. Let us offer ourselves 
to Him ( o do and to suffer every tiling for His glory and for the 
edification of His Church; He wants nothing more. If He 
desires results, . hey are in Hi 5 power, not. i:i 0111-3. In His 
presence let < ur wills and oiirhearts expand, ready for anything 
without determining on any till He shall have spoken. In the 
meantim^, let us beg Him 10 give us the grace to labor in the 
exercise of the vir.ius that Oar Lord practised in His hidden 

life. (To the Indies. 2oth of Aug. KJ50.) 

lie condemned I lik? confidence and natural cag?rncss in 
action, as discouragement ;.nd sadness in misfortune, all appear- 
ingto him to be derived from want ot a submission to Providence, 
lie wrote: " T wi l iei!}ou two things JD regard to thcin^uictudo 
and melancholy you s.iy yon have when things do nor, go right 
with you. The rirst is, that it is God, and not men, who makes 
tilings go well, and lie, sometimes, cither to show us we can 
do nothing ourselves, or to cx. iviso our patience, per.ntts that 
they turn n-.t. otherwise than wc % wish. And the sscond is, 
that yon trust too much in your own power of direction, being 


ol the opinion that as you love good order it depends on you 
to preserve it; and hence it is that, not being able to succeed 
you grieve excessively, Avhcrcas were you firmly convinced that 
all you can do is to spoil, you would be astonished that things 
were not far worse, and you would remain as tranquil in events 
thai appear to you contrary and disagreeable, as in success, know 
ing that it is God who thus orders tilings. I beg of you, then, to 
regard all things in the light of His Providence, doing humbly 
and carefully all that depends on yon to contribute to their 
success, and for the result, submit !o the good pleasure of God." 
(1o M. Perncile, in Geneva. 2:>d of. Nov. 1G58.) 

Obstacles and misfortunes seemed to him forerunners of 
success; and to show this he mado use of the following in 
genious comparison: - There is reason to hope that, as with 
fruit-tree.?, so will it be with you ; for the more a long and 
severe winter checks and relards them, the deeper root they 
take and the more fruit they bear/ ( To M. Des Dames, in 
Poland, 20th of June, 1G59.) 

"\Vc see that he varied the application :f the same doctrine 
according to the circumstances and tho needs of euch one. To 
a pastor -who desired to exchange his parish he said: "Pray 
and take counsel, for Llic question is to kno-.v whether God 
wishes you to b.ive the spouse lie has give you ; " to superiors 
of houses who made, kno .ui to him their fears of loss, or per 
secution: "Nothing will happen but what is pleasing to God ; 
Ho is master not only oi whnt wj posses, but also of our lives,and 
it is but proper that He dispose of all according to His Divi.ic 
Will; to those wiio complained of their physical infirmities, 
or their spiritual drynes?: "IJornuh: subject to the good 
pbas vre of God ; rest content in every condition in which it 
will plo.ise.IIim to p>.:? yon, and, as long so you know it to 
be agreeable to Him, never desire to leave it. This is the 
most excellent and the most sublime exorciso that a Christian. or 
even a priest, can practice on curth." To Mademoiselle Le 
Gras, who wa= very mvasv on account of the- sickness of Mr. 
Porlnil, the- then director oi the Daughters of Charity, he said: 
We must fight against that which gives pain, we must rer.d 
our hearis, or soft " thoui soas : pr -^i-r.Mhsrjj for everything-. 


It appears that Our Lord wishes to take away His park of the 
little congregation ; iif belongs entirely to Him, as I trust, and Me 
has a right to do with it as Me pleases ; for myself, rny greatest 
wish is to desire only the accomplishment of His holy will. 
I cannot express to you here how far advanced our dear si ok 
one is in this practice, and it is I or this reason,it seems, that our 
dear Lord desires to place him where he c:ui continue -it more 
happily for all eternity. Oh ! who will give ns this grac? of 
submission of our senses and of our reason to this Adorable- 
Will? It will be the author of both the senses and reason, 
provided we use them only in Him and for Him. Let us pray 
that both you and I have only the same will with Him and in 
Him, for this is Paradise on earth." He said to her again, 
when anxiety in regard to the conduct and the future of her 
son cuus. d her torments: " Give both son and mother to our 
Lord, and lie will render good account of both ; only permit 
Him to do His will in you and in him ; seek this same will in 
all your exercises and desire no other practice, for this alone is 
sufficient to make you entirely God .-:. Oh ! but. it requires little 
to be a saint ! The most sovereign, and almost only, means is to 
accustom yourself to do in all things the will of God." On 
another occasion, when she begged him to point out the evil 
of her soul, which she thought was the cans? of her bodily 
ailment, he said: " I can indicate no other cause of your sick 
ness than the good pleasure of God. Adore, then, this good 
pleasure without inquiring whence it is that God rejoices in 
seeing yon suffering. He is glorified greatly by our 
abandonment to His direction without discussing tho reason of 


His will, unless it be that His will is the reason, and His reason, 
His will. Let us, therefore, abandon ourselves to it as Isaac did 
to the will of Abraham, and as Jesus Christ to the will of His 

And his joy was great, when he pcrcjived that his children 
walked in this holy practice He wrote to OIK- of them : God 
be praised that you are ready to do, in everything and every 
where, His most holy will, and to go live and die wherever 
it may be agreeable to Him to call you ! This is the disposition 
of good servants of God and of really apostolic. 1 : men who are 


attached to nothing; it is the mark of the true children of 
God who arc always prepared to correspond to the designs of 
so good a Father. With lively sentiments of tenderness and 
gratitude I thank Him for yon, not doubting but that your 
heart, thus prepared, wiil abundantly receive the graces of 
heaven so that you may do a gnat deal of good on earth; 
and such is my prayer to His Divine Goodness." 

In one or two oi his conferences he condensed, and t lioroughly 
expounded, this doctrine which is found scattered in hundreds 
of liis letters, and given in Iragmonts in his numerous familiar 
discourses. "The perfection of love, he says, " docs not 
consist in ecstasies but in properly doing the will of God ; anil 
He, whose will is most conformable to that of God, will be, 
among men, the most perfect. Hence our perfection consists 
in so uniting our will to the will of God that His and ours 
may be but one and the same will ; and he who will excel 
more in this point will be the more perfect. When our Lord 
wished to teach the young man, mentioned in the Gospel, the 
means to arrive at perfection, lie said fohim : Jf anyone will 
come after me, let Inm renounce himself. tak>: up hi* cross,, 
and fallow !/<. But. 1 ask you, who renounces himself, 
more, or bears the cross of mortification better, and follows 
Jesus Christ more perfectly than he who studies never to do 
his own will, but always the will of God? The Scripture also 
tells us in some other place that, lie who adheres to God his 
bu! one mind with him. .\ow, 1 ask you. who adheres more r-cr- 
fecrly to God than he who does only (he will of God and never 
his own, who wishes and desires only what, God wishes? Oh, 
but this is a short and easy way to acquire in this life a great 
treasure of graces." 

Oh, then what happiness for the Christian ! " ttce in what; 
holy dispositions lie posscses his life, ,-nd the blessings th;-.t ac 
company all that He does. He holds to God alone, and God con 
ducts Him in everything and in everyplace; so that he can 
say to Him as did the prophet: * Thou hast lull mely-my 
// ///// Jiand, and Inj thy /rill ///on hat conducted me. (Ps. 
LXVII, 24.) God leads Him, as it were, by the right hand, and 
he, in turn, keeeping Himself in entire submission to this; 


Divine guidance, can be seen to-morrow, after to-morrow, the 

entire we^k, the entire year, in fine, all his lite, in peace and 
tranquillny, in fervor continually advancing towards God and 
constantly infusing into the souls of those around him the 
sweet and salutary effects of the spirit that animates him. If 
you compare him with (hose who follow their own inclinations 
you wili sec that his actions shed a brilliant light and bear 
rich fruits ; a notable progress is remarked in his person ; a 
force and energy in all his words ; God gives a special blessing 
to all his works, and accompanies with his grace tho designs 
he undertakes for Him and the counsels lie gives others; and 
his every action gives great edification. But, 011 the other 
hand, we sec that persons attached to their own inclinations 
have thoughts only of earth ; their iangnage is the language 
of slaves ; and their works arc lifeless. The di (lore nee arises 
from this, that :hcy attach themselves to creatures while 
the former separates himsolf from them. Nature acts in 
base souls, and grace in thoso that elevate themselves to 
God, and breathe but His will.* 

But it 1-3 in the conference of the 7th of March, 1059, that 
we find this doctrine of submission to the will of God fully 
explained, in its motives, moans and practice, according io the 
usual manner which the Saint styled the LITTLE METHOD: 

"Motives. 1. The exercise that consists in always doing 
the will oi God is the most excellent, lor it, embraces 
indifference, pure intention, and all the prac lives and exe/cises 
of perfection. Who is tin re more indifferent than he who 
does the will oi God in everything, who seek? himself in none, 
and who wishes what lie may lawfully wish only because God 
so desires? Can there b 3 an) person more tree, of purer and. 
more perfect intention ? 

" 2. It is certain that, actions, done alter a human manner, 
mechanically, unless they have a worthy end, such as to ac 
complish the will of Ciod, are dead. Meditation, preaching, 
working without discretion, assisting at office, are but so many 
inanimate actions ; they are a money that has no value, not 
having the stamp, lor ood docs not regard our works save in 
asmuch as He sees Himself in them, and inasmuch as they 
arc performed for His sake. 


" Our. father, Adam in the Garden of Paradise was a tree that 
naturally bore fruit agreeable in the eyes of its Lord: but sin 
in severing his will from that of God rendered him incapable 
oi doing anything that might be pleasing to Him ; and we 
who spring from this tainted source have, humanly speaking, 
the same inability. 

"Theiv arc theologians who think that all that is not done 
for God is sin ; but if it ]><.- not sin, it is at least useless. 

; 3. It was the maxim and practice of our Lord to do the 
will of His Father in everything. Oh, My Saviour, what 
prominence and what brilliancy thon givest to "llie exercise 
of your virtues! Thou art the King of Glory, and yet Thou 
earnest into the world to do but the will of Him who sent 
Thee! This sacred disposition was most dear to Him: My 
Kill, He said, As to do the trill of Him who sent Me. ( John 
TV. 34-.) 0, My Saviour, that was Thy practice! St. John 
had that, of penance, he was full of the desire to practice it 
and to persuade others to do it. For it was for that He came 
into the woi4d. And Thou, Lamb of God, Thou who 
takest away the sins of the world, Thou earnest full of ardor 
to do, and to inculcate the will of Thy Father. Elias 
had a burning zeal for the glory of God ; he put everything 
in (ire and flames in order to imprint on the hearts of men 
fear and respect. And Thou, My Saviour, Thou werfc animated 
with that sweet and incomparable desire that the will of God 
be done by all Hie- creatures. It is for that reason Thou hast 
placed in the Lord s Prayer : Thy will le done. Thou hast 
wished that all men would do, im:l would demand, what? the 
will of the Heavenly Father ; where-? on earth and in Heaven ; 
and how ? as Ihe angels and si.ints do, promptly, completely, 
constantly, lovingly. I am sure there is not one here present 
who has not, to-day, endeavored to perform some actions that 
of Ihcrnselves are good and holy ; and yet it may be that God 
has rejected them, because they were done through your own 
will. Is it not this that the prophet declared when lie said, on 
the part of God: / do not want your fasi*, by which in 
th iKkiiiy to honor me y^u do me the contrary; because, when 
you fast you do your own -will, and by this -will you spoil am! 


vitiate H<mr fast. Xow. the same may bo said of all other 
Avorks ot piety. The presence of oar own will taints our 
devotions, our labors, and our penetential works. Tor twenty 
years. 1 have never road in the Iloiy Mass the Epistle, taken 
from the 58th Chapter oflsaias, with out being greatly troubled. 

"What", then, must he done, not to lose our time and our 
labor? This, that AVC never act through motives of self-in 
terest, from inclination, humor, or fancy ; but accustom our 
selves to do the will of God in all tilings I say in all, and 
not in part, for this is the peculiar effect of grace, to render 
tiie person and action agreeable to God. Jesus Christ said 
that many will call out: Lord, Lord, JIGVC ivs not prophesied. 
and in Thy name cast on/ devils, and done main) wonderful _ 
works in Thy name? I never knew yon, He will answer, I 
never knew you ; deparl: from Me, you that work iniquity. 
But, Lord, dost Thou call works of iniquity the prophesies 
and miracles we have performed in Thy name : -Retire from 
Me, ye wicked, He will say to them ; I never knew yon. Who 
I hen are they that will enter the Kingdom of Heaven ? Those 
who will perform the will of God. 0, My Saviour ! give us the 
grace to be filled with the desire not to bear wild fruit:, 
but that all we produce be for, and by Thee, so that all may 
be pleasing in the eyes of Thy Father. 

But now, how shall Ave do the r/ ill of God ? The things to 
to be done are either forbidden, or commanded, or indifferent,. 
In regard to works commanded or forbidden, it is the Will o: 
God that we do (he first and abstain from the second. How 
does a child do tlu> will of his father, or a subject that of his. 
king? In performing what they ordain, and in refraining 
from what they forbid; the child does so, to honor its father, 
and the subject, in obedience to his king. In like manner 
will AVC do the will of God if, in doing what is commanded, and 
not doing what is prohibited, we have the intention of glorify 
ing this admirable father, and of lovingly obeying this king 
of love. Wo must oboy when He commands directly or in 
directly, that is to say, by Himself, or by the Church, for the 
Church is His spouse and Ho is the father of the family, and 
He desiivs His children to obey their mother a? Himself. 


"Tb.rc arc actions ihr.t :irc indifferent, seme of which arc 
agreeable to na:ure. others disagreeable., and still others that 


arc noil her the one nor the oth^r. 

"Ecu-eon two indifferent actions, one agreeable, and the, 
o-.her disagreeable to nature, I should, in order not to live 
according to I he flesh, choose the latter. If, for instance, I 
have my choice to visit either of two persons, one of whom I 
know will bo pleasing, whilst the other will be less so, or not 
at :ii: ? I should, according to the rule, prefer the second lo the 
first. I the case wherein there is no choice, as when 
there is an obligation (o go where my inclination leads ; for then 
the will of God being male manifest by the command, we 
should seA" therein His pleasure, and net ours. With regard 
to actions that ar? neither agreeable, nor disagreeable,, as to be 
seated, or to remain standing, to co by one way, or another, I 
do them fortuitously ; and in so doing there would seem to he 
no merit. Yet, by offering them to God and in doing them 
in the name of our Lord, as St. Pi-.ul teaches, they may be 
made meritorious. 

"There is a fourth manner wherein we may know the wiIJ 
of God; and that is by inspiration: for God often enlightens 
the understanding raid mov.-s the- heart. But in order not to 
be deo?ived,we must, use the suit of discretion. Amid a 
number of though! s and sentiments there are found many 
apparently good, which, however, do not come from God, and 
are not according to His good pleasure. We must, therefore. 
examine *hem carefully in prayer, considering their motives 
and i heir object, propose then! to the learned, take advice in 
relation ro ihcm with our directors, -who are for us the deposi 
tories of Divine Wisdom ; and in doing what they direct we 
will do the will of God. 

<-Wc w:ll perform i .,ag:nn, in doing what is reasonable, accord 
ing to this prayer of the Church: ; Grant, we beseech Thee, 
God, tkct (tliraii* ttinldnrj rifjMy.wemny acc<nn]>lixh In word 
and act fuse fhing* wliiclt, are pleasing (o T/tce. To do a 
thing which appears reasonable is, then, to do the will of God. 
This, i n. ust always bo uiiciei, steed, is to be taken with the 
.qrahi of salt of Christian jrudencc.and with the advice of 


those who direct us, for it miy happen that the thing to be 
done miiy be reasonable in itself, but not in its circumstances 
of time, place, or manner. 

"To do the will of God in the ways v/o have said is to do iu 
actively. It is done passively when we acquiesce in what 
God docs in us, as in unforeseen events. A motive for consolation 
surprises; us ; we receive news, what will I say ? of the conversion 
of some important personage or of a a on tiro country ; or that 
God is i ervently served by persons whom we love; or ilia: peace 
is re-established between tvo princes whose dissension j gave 
great scandal to the Church. We must receive this as coming 
from the hand oi God, and ivjjice in spirit as did oar Lord 
when lie returned thanks to His Father for having revealed 
His secrets to the simple. On t lie other hum], some cau-:e 
for sorrow overtakes u j , such as sickness, loss, calumny. 
This, too. we must accept as coming from the hand of God. 
because it is His pleasure to try us in that way, and because 
He it is who sends all afflictions Sltall hen: be evil in the 
city, which the Lord ltdth nut done? (Amos o(5.) Our Lord in 
the Garden of Olives, meditating on the torments that lie 
was about to suft er, regarded them as willed by His Fa .lur, 
and we should say with Him: Let not my will be done, 
Lord, but Thine. I 

"Means: The first is taught us in the Lord s Prayer: 
Thy will be done ; for our Lord, having placed thoze 
wordsin our daily prayer, desires that, every day, we ask of Him 
the grace to do His will as it is done in Heaven, perfe.-tly and 
without cejsing, with a simple and unvaried conformety of 
our own. 2d. Let us accustom ourselves to say this prayer 
not only with our lips, out also to pradice it. Let IIG begin, 
to-morrow, this very hour, and say to G)d: Lord, in order to 
glorify Thee, I wish to obey and to d.i all that will be made 
manifest to me in Thy name. In this manner let 113. 
enliven our will and frequently renew our partimlar intent 
ion. But. you will tell me, I do not remember, I am for 
hours, for entire half days, without thi.ikin-r to offer to 
Him what I do. We must humble ourselves very much for 
this, and be sorry for the loss of merit in so many actions, 


or, at least, of the pleasure tluit God otherwise \vould have 
woeired had they been offered to Him. And to supply for 

this defect let each on. , on rising- in the morning, make 
God a general oblation oi all the actions of the day, and 
afterward renew the offering onee or twice during the course. 
of the morning, and as often during the afternoon, saying 
lo Him : My God, be pleased to accept all the motions of my 
heart and of my body ; draw them to Thee ; I offer them with 
till my labors and my suffering! The more we do this, the 
easier will it become and the more advantage will we find in 
it. By this means, we will acquire now motives for loving, 
and love will cause i s to persevere and grow in this holy 
praciire. Alas! how many there are, cvon in the world, who- 
do not lose sight oi 1 God. I lately met a person, who made 
it a matter of conscience for having failed three times in 
one day in the recollection of the prespnee of God. These 
pL-opl-j will ba our judges and will, one day, condemn us 
before the Divine Majesty for our neglect we who have nothing 
else to do but to love God, and to testify our love by our services, 
am 1 , by our every movement. Let us beg of our Lord, then, 
to grant us the grace to say with Him: My mad is to do 
the will of Him Mat sent me. (John iv, 34.) Thy delight, O 
Savior of the world, Thy ambrosia and thy nectar was to do 
(he will of Thy Father. We are Thy children, and we throw 
ourselves into Thy arms, in order to imitate Thy practices. 
Give us this grace; Cor, as of ourselves we are powerless, we 
ask it of Thee, and from Theo wo hope for it; but with a con 
fidence and with a strong desire to follow Thee." 

Absolute submission to the Will of God produces resignation 
and holy indifference, one act of which, said St. Vincent, "is 
worth more than a hundred thousand temporal successes/ 
Whether events happened by the express will of God, or were 
come to pass simply by His permission, the saint still whhed 
resignation to God s aoocl pleasure in order to suffer all that 


may bo pleasing to Him, and as uiueh. and for as long a time 
as He may please. This is the great bsson taught by the 
Son of God; and those who arc docile, and imprint it deeply 
in their hearts arc in the first class m the school oi this 
Divine Master. And, for my part, I know of nothing more 

CON FOUMITV TO TIIK WILL ()! <;<>!>. 41 

hol}*, or oi greater perfection than this resignation when it 
leads to complete renunciation of self, and to holy indifference 
for all clasccs of conditions, sin exceptccl, no matter how we 
may have been placed in them. Let us hold to this idea, and 
let us pray to God to bestow on us (he grace (o remain 
constantly in this indifference." 

Here, again, the saint multiplied and diversified his 
instructions according to the necessities of each one. "0, 
sir," paid he to one, "how heautidil an ornament is holy 
indifference in a missionary, since it makes him so pleasing to 
God that he who possesses it will always be preferred by Him 
to all other workers in whom He will not sec this disposition 
of indifference in regard to the accomplishment of His designs. 
If we ever were once divested of all self-will, we would then 
be in a condition to perform \vith assurance the will of God 
u will in which the angels find all their felicity and men 
all their happiness. To another, he wrote: I give God 
infinite thanks for the disposition that He has given you to go 
to foreign countries, or not to go, but to remain where" you 
are, according as you may, or may not be sent. Hoi} 
indifference for all things is the state of the perfect; and 
yours gives me hope that God will be glorified in and by you : 
such is my heartfelt prayer. And I beg of you, my dear sir, 
to ask of Him, for us all, the grace to abandon ourselves 
entirely to his holy conduct. We should SL-rve Him according 
to His good pleasure, and we should renounce our cwn choice, 
both as regards locality and employment. That we belong to 
God is enough to induce us to wish to belong to Him. in the 
most perfect manner, and, like His best children, be honored 
with the title of servants of the -Gospel, by which our Lord 
desires to be made known and served. And what matters it to 
us, how, or in what place, provided it be done? And most; 
assuredly will it be if we allow Him to act." 

In his conference to the Daughters of Charity, as also in 
those to his missionaries, he gave fully his ideas ar.d views 
on holy indifference. He said to the Daughters of Charily, 
( 14th of December, 1059 ) : The state of indifference is the 
state of the angels who, at the least sign, ;irc ever prepared to 


accomplish willingly, both in heaven and on earth, (he wishes 
of God, desiring to do only what He commands them. Thus 
acts the iiuliffeivnt soul. Again, it resembles the angels in 
this, that they, no nuuter what maybe their employment, 
never 1 >so sight of God, but contemplate Him everywhere and 
in ;;11 tilings. It ivganis the will ot God in whatever it is 
given to do, and is equally content wherever sent, just as the 
angels, who, since (heir only enjoyment is to accomplish the 
will of G)d, ura as happy in being tho guardians of a wicked 
ninn as oi a man of virtu;;. Tho soul that is possessed of 
indiM civnco resembles the angels, <hen, in three ways: 1st, in 
as imv. h as it always walks in the pivsencs of God ; 2d, since 
it is always prepared to do His holy will without solicitude as 
to tho manner; and 3d, in this that it is as much, and more 
contc:it, in occupations that are lowly than in those (hat are 
elovaied On the othor hand, a soul that is wanting in 
indilforenec, and that desires to bo in such an employment, or 
in such a placo, in prolerjncc to another, may be styled a 
<iem m. NPVOI- to wish to do the will of God, but ever to do 
one s own, is tho spirit of the demon. It is true that he does 
the will of G)din lull, as ho did when, at the command of 
Our L.iril. he entered the swine, but it is by constraint and in 
spite of himself. And as thy demon carries his hell with him 
everywhere, and is devoured by flames even Avhcn in the bodies 
of the possessed, so, too. a soul that is tilled with a thousand 
desires, and at one timo wishes this, and at another, that 
employment, never has any iruc p-acc. This unrest is its 


But, to have the instructions of the saint on this subject in 
their entirety, we must listen to his conference to his missionaries, 
on fie 1C th of May, 1050. Indilfcrence." he says, " is a 
Slate of virtue in which man detaches himself from creatures 
to unite himself to the Creator. It is not a virtue, but a 
state, wherein virtue acts, wherein the heart detaches itself from 
those things that hol.l it captive. Where is the loving heart? 
In the thing tint iU loves ; consequently, where our love is, 
there 1; ourheart captive. It cannot leave, it cannot rise, 
it caiuiot go either to the right or to the left ; it remains 
fixed. Wherever the treasure of the- avaricious is, there, too, is 


his heart, an<l where our heart is, thoro is our tre:isuro. And 
what is deplorable, the obi -cts tlitit hold us in shvary are, 
ordinarily speaking, the mist unworthy. What! a nothing, 
an imagination, a short word that is addressed to us, an aV.scnce 
of kindly greeting, a little relusul, :ho thought merely tint 
enough ado is not made ah;mt us, all this so wounds and sores 


us that we- cannot be cured, we do not know how to escape,, 
\vc arc always affected and held captive by it. Tlr- peculiar 
property of indifference is -o lake away from us all I eel ing 
and all desire, to detach us from ourselves and from every 
creature. -This is its office, this the happiness to wh ch it 
leads, provided it be ac live, provided it labors. And how? 
To know ourselves we must s:uily ourselves, wo must say to 
to ourselves : Now, my soul, wh r. ai-e t .iy auvctioas? What 
do we hold dear? What is it that captivates us? Do we 
possess the liberty of the children o! God, or are we bound to 
worldly goods, to our own ease, to honors? We must, 
examine to discover our bonds in order to break them. 

" God, having sent His Son into the world to redeem us, 
made us His children, and the cowardly man, who allows 
himself to be overcome by creatures, is a slave ; and, losing 
the liberty of the children of God, he seems to utter an 
eternal blasphemy, as if he said that God is not His Father, 
or that God is less lovable than ihat which he loves, or ihe 
pleasures that captivate him. 

To what did the Son of God attach Himself? You know 
how He was subject to the Will of His Father. By the inoiUh 
of the Prophet-King, He compares Himself to an animal subject 
to the willjof its master. Hisperiect resignation readily suggests 
ihat of the animal that has neither choice nor desire. With 
it you do as you please ; it is always ready to go out, to receive- 
a saddle or a pack-saddle, to be attached to a plow, or to stand 
still. To it everything is indifferent; it permits any treat 
ment, it has no preference for its stable, nor inclination to go 
this way rather than that: it has no attachment. II:ivoyou 
not, in passing, often seen mules drawn up bclore a gate? 
Sometimes five and six together, all await the coming of tin- 
person who has charge, anil when he has come they s arr, off. 
They turn to the right, or to the let r, as he chooses, and they 


stop us soon as he says the word. They are totally indifferent. 
<Iam Iccomo ax a Iraxt brfurc ilm: (?s. xxii, 23) This 
is how I am, says our Lord, in order to show us that He was 
over ready to do whatever God wished. Oh, what tractable- 
ncs< Oh, what abandonment! And what was the result: And 
1 a ni alw:n/s with thro. He was always with God. 

" What docs he who is perfectly submitted to the orders of 

Divine Providence? He acts as tlu> dumb beast, which is 

ready for whatever is demanded. whenever, and liowcver it 

may be demanded. And what do I, v/hcn I thus abandon 

uiysoir? I attract God, because I have no will. Thou, lirtxl 

hd m ID mij r-if/ht Itviid, and l;i Thy Will Thou /u<*t 

. comliicM. me. " (Ps. xxii. 24.) If I have done any good it is 

.Thou who hast guided me; the k-ast sign of Thy Wiil was 

sufficient for me, I am become as a beast of burden before 

Tlrjo ; I have submitted to con temp!-, to suffering and ro all 

the ;li:-positions of Thy good pleasure ; and hence it i:;, () Lord 

ihat my occupations are plensiug in Thy sight. 

"Do you not so- the happy success of those that arc in this 
...disposition of indifference? They adhere to God alonp, and 
God is their guide. You can find them to-morrow, the entire 
>k, all the year, all their life-tim?, in peace, in favor and in 
continual love for God, and always diffusing around them the 
B-veet and salutary effects of the workings of God within them. 
AuJ compare the indifferent with Mioso who are not so, and 
v<) ,, . on the one side, actions all resplendent with light 

ind rich in L rnit; advancement in the entire person, force in 
words, enterprises blessed, grace attending counsels given, and 
the good odor of sanctity accompanying every action : And 
, b i Tjiy Will Thou hc^t conducted me? (Fs. xxii. 24) But, fm 
the pare of those given up to their own satisfaction, you can 
iiiul only thoughts ol 1 earth, speech of slaves, and works that 
arc dead. The difference, then, between them is, that these 
unite themselves to creatures, whilst those separate themselves 
from them; thai mature animaies low souls, whilst grace 
vivifies those that raise themselves to God, and breathe but 
His Will Therefore is it thac the latter may cay, after a 
manner with Our Lord : Thou hast received me with glory. 

( ON FOUMITV ;<> TIII-: wn.i. OF <;o!>. 45 

(Ps. xxii. 2-1) Thou hast given mo power both in heaven and 
on earth. 

"Oh, My God, I know (hat: i.] beautiful, and I have 
a strong- desire to act in that way, and I see only too plainly 
that I a;n held captive. I find difficulty in detaching myself 
from things that I like; I suffer because 1 I do not preach, 
because 1 am no; employed, because I am not; suited, because 
I am not in good vf puk-. I will have a groat deal o1 trouble 
in beiring with persons oi every sort oi disposition, but with 
Thy help, mv God. I will do nil. [ do not ask to he an angel, 
nor like an apostle ; what I desire is simply the- submissive dispo 
sition yon give to animals., the strength of endurance you give 
to soldiers, and a firmness similar to the t: ready adherence tht-y 
manifest for the military order. Oh, my brethren, we should 
blush for shame to see ourselves surpassed by simple, common 
soldiers, and even by the poor beasts of the Held, in things that 
are GO agreeable to Clod that I. is Son Himself lias wished to 
perform them. 

"Ah ! creat St. Peter, you said well that you had abandoned 
all. and von proved it clearly when, having recognized your 
Master on the shore, and having heard Hi?; well-beloved 
disciple say to you : It is the Lord (John xxi. 7,), you cast 
yourself into the water to go to Iliir.. You did not think of 
the vessel, nor of your clothing, no, nor of your life itself, but 
only of your Divine Savior, who was your all. And you, 0, 
St. Paul, great apostle, who, endowed with a most special 
grace from the moment of your conversion, practiced so 
perfectly this virtue of indifference in saying: Lord u-Jiat 
n-ilf Thou lnii C me to do. (Acts ix, (j). 

This language marked a wonderful change and a 
detachment that could only be the sudden effect of grace, St. 
Paul luiviiK been, in an instant, rendered indifferent to his 


law, his commission, his pretentious, and his sentiments, and 
placed in a state so perfect that he was unsolicitoiis, and 
ready for all that. God might demand of him. If, then, these 
great saints so cherished and practiced this virtue of 
indifference we should imitate them, and follow after them : 
for the missionaries do not belong to their* selves, but to Jesus 


Christ, Who ^is -.cs to so dispose of them (liar, (boy do us He 
lms done, and suffer after His example. As the Father has 
sent mo, said He to His apostles and disciples, so do I send 
you, and as they have p.-rseeuted Me so will they peiv.ecute 

"After all these considerations, should wo not empty onr 
hearts of all desire, save that of rendering ourselves conformable 
to Jesus Christ, and of all will, bni, that, of obedience? I 
think you all are in this disposition, and I trust that * ; od 
will give us this grace. Yes, my God. I hope it for mys<-lf the 
very tirst, for I have so much need of it by reason of my many 
miseries and my many attachments from which I see myself 
almost powerless to withdraw, and \vhich cause m?, in my old 
age, to cry out- Avith David: "Lord have pity on n;c. But 
you will be edified, my brethren, when I tell you that we have 
amongst us weal; and infirm old men who have asked to bo 
sent :o the Indies, and have asked even whilst, Buffering from 
their inlirmitics, which were nor slight. Whence comes such 
courage? It is because their heart,; arc free; they go willingly 
and joyfully wheresoever Clod wishes to be known and adored, 
and nothing Imt His holy will k?eps them here. And we 
others, my brethren, all of us, were v.e not entangled in some 
wretched brier.;, should we no , each one of us, say in his heart : 
My GoJ, I give myself to Thee to !.c sent any place on tnis 
caith to which my superiors w 11 judge proper 1 should go to 
ami ranee Thy Holy Name, and even should I die, then 1 Avill 
stdi dispose myselfto go. knowing well tluu my salvation is in 
obedience, and obedience is Thy Holy Will. Those who are 
nor in i his disposition of mind should strive to know what it is 
chat draws them OIK- direction more than another, so lh;it, by 
means of continual mortification, both interior and exterior, 
they may attain, with the he"p oi God, to the liberty of the 
children of God, which is holy indifference." 

With the intention of teaching : he lesson more vividly, and of 
render;!) <i it more effective, the saint would tike occasion from 
some severe loss that, happened to bciall the congregation, to 
excite it to the practice ol an indifference, pushed even to 
heroism. Thus, in 1057, when the plague had snatched away 


nearly all his missionaries in Genoa, ho interrupts himself in 
the course of a conference on confidence in God, and cxrlaims: 
0, but is it not very true, gentlemen and my brethren, that 
Are should have great confidence hi God, and place ourselves 
entirely in His hands, being convinced that His Providence 
will direct to oni advantage :ill that it. wishes, or permits to 
happen to us? Yes, whatever God gives, and whatever He 
takes away, is all for our good, because such is His good 
pleasure, and His good pleasure is our aim and our happiness. 
In this view, I nr.ko known to you th:? afflict ion which has come 
upon us, and I can say, my brethren, in all truth, one of the 
greatest that could full upon us ; it is that we IK.VJ lost, the 
main stay and principal support <>! our house in Gonoa, Mr. 
Blatiron, the superior of that house, who was a great servant, of 
God, is dead ; he is gone. But that, is not all : the good Mr. 
Dupont, Avho labored so joyfully i:i the service of those stricken 
with the plujjne, who had so great a love lor his neighbor, 
such fervor and zeal in procuring the salvation of souls, has 
also been taker, a- way by the distemper. One of our Italian 
priests, Mr. Dominic Bocconi, a very virtuous and good mis 
sionary, as I have been informed, died in a pest-house in which 
he shut himself so as to assist the poor plague-stricken 
people of the country. Mr. Tratebas, who was likewise a true 
servant of God, an excellent missionary, and great in every 
virtue, is also dead. Mr. Frmcis Vincent, whom you knew, 
and who did not yield in anything to the others, h dead. Mr. 
EnnciT, a prudent, pious, -and exemplary man, is dead. It is 
all over with them, gentlemen and my brothers; the plague lu;s 
taken from us these stout workers; God has taken them to 
Himself. Out of eight, but one remains, Mr. Le Juge, Avho, 
having been stricken down, recovered and is now assisting the 
other sick. Oh, My Savior, Jesus, what, a loss and how great 
an affliction! Now it is that we have great need to resign 
ourselves thoroughly to tlu wili of God; f-jr, otherwise, what 
can we do but uselessly weep and lament the loss of these 
great servants of God who were so inflamed with zeal for His 
glory? By resignation, however, after having accorded a feu- 
tears to our grief for the separation, we can elevate ourselves 
to Gocl, and praise and bless Him for all these losses, since it is 

48 VIKTI;E.S AN;> IMX TIMM-: OF ST. VIXCKNT i>:-: i ,u:i.. 

by the disposition of His Divine Will that (hev are come upon 
iis. Yet, gentlemen and my brothers, can we say we lose those 
whom God takes? No, we do nor lose them, and AVC should 
believe that the ashes of hese good missionaries will prove to 
be the seed whence others will spring. Rest assured that God 
will not withdraw from tins congregation the graces that he 
bestowed upon them, but. will give them to (hose who shall 
have the zeal to go take their places." 



Love, uniting 1 hearts and wills, space, ami is 
happy only in the presence or in the continual sight of the 
object beloved. Vincent, full of love for God, took grout care 
not to lose, for a single instant, the thought of Hi:) holy and 
amiable presence. Alone, or in public, in quiet or immersed 
in duty, in joy as in son ov,-, in the silence of his room, or in 
the noise and distraction of the street, of the court, and of 
meetings, he was constantly with God, always united to Him 
in thought, and in hei-rt. Xo matter at v/hat moment, or in what 
place you met him, it was readily seen from his recollected 
manner, from his evenness of temper, from the nature and 
recent of his words, that God was ever present with him. 
When asked a question, he invariably paused bet re answering, 
in order to reflect, and to consult God, and i* was in the name 
of God, " Tn the name of the Lord, 1 his ordinary formula, that 
he gave a decision or an advice. He thought of God s 
presence at least four times an hour: whenever the clock struck 
he immediately uncovered himself, made the sign of the cross. 
and raised his eyes to Heaven. Ordinarily, he kept them cast 
down, and even closed, whenever he rode in a carriage, and he- 
opened them only to look upon the Crucifix oi his rosary which 
he always carried attached to his cincture. That he might not 
see, nor be seen, and that he might the more easily entertain 
himself with God he almost always closed the curtains of the 
carriage. For that matter, however, the sight of creatures, far 
from distracting him, only served to elevate him to their 


Creator. Fields covered with grain, trees laden with fruit 
afforded him an occasion to bless the goodness of God and to 
adore His paternal Providence; flowers, birds, or any other 
agreeable object would occasion the exclamation: " What is 
comparable to the beauty of God, AYho is the source of all the 
beauty and perfection of His creatures? Is it not lie who 
lends them their lustre and their brilliancy?" Most frequently, 
however, he honored God, and kept himself united to Him in 
depriving himself of the view of pleasing objects, and in 
mortifying his senses. 

If he went on foot through the streets he preserved the same 
recollection, :md observed the same practice. In passing 
before a church he would enter and prostrate himself with his 
face to the earth. "When the Aiir/dus rang, whether he was in 
the rcidst of a crowd, or at court, he uncovered, and fell on his 
knees to recite it. Though all looked at him in admiration he 
siiw no one. The little children in the streets pointed him out 
fo each other, saying: "Sec. the Saint is passing." 


He counselled others to adopt what proved in his own case 
:i means to maintain the presence of God. Being one da} at 
Court, in one of the grand s-ilvn* which was all lined with 
mirrors so that even the smallest insect or grain of dust was 
reflected, he was struck with a thought which he hastened to 
communicate to his Community. "If men" he said, "have 
been able to represent, in this manner, aii that passes in a place, 
even the least movement of the smallest thing, have we not 
greater reason to believe that they are all represented in the 
grand mirror of the Divinity that fills all space, and contains 
all in its immensity, and in which the Blessed see all things, 
and particularly the good works of faithful eouls, and come- 
ijuently all their acts of patience, of humility, of conformity to 
tiie will of God. and of other virtues?" 

He placed in different parts of the house offS f . Lazarus the 
words. -God sees me," written in large characters, in order 
to familiarize his children with the thought, of the presence of 
God; and he desired thai, these tablets would be considered as 


the eye of God looking on those passing, and visible to their 
heart?. Of the exercise of the presence of God he suid: "Who 
soever is faithful to it, whosoever acquires an affection for it; 
will soon attain to a very high degree of sanctity " And he 
said a<j;ain: "The thought of the presence of God will render 
us familiar with the practice of constantly doing His will; the 
remembrance of the Divine presence will establish itself, little by 
little, in the mind, and, by His Grace, it will become a habit, 
so that we will, at last,l>c animated b} this Divine presence. 



"Love is not content \vitli tlic presence alone, it iike .viso 
<lemands converse with the object, loved. Ho. then, who loves 
God, is. necessarily, a man of pv:\yer. Vincent <le Pan! had a 
most religions and profound estccir. lor prayer; he had the 
greatest relish for it, and it, possessed for him the .sweetest 
attraction. Every morning he devoted one hour 1o it : and in the 
midst of the greatest multiplicity of affairs, and though he were 
obliged to be bled, 01 to take medicine, he would not permit the 
consequent fatigue, no matter how severe, to prevent him from 
being present on the morrow. He made his prayer on his 
knees, in the church with his entire community. Not content 
to consecrate to God the first fruits of tlio day he also gave 
;i : ); :s;>lf up to prayer during his long nights of sleeplessness, ar.d 
devoted to it every leisure moment that his duly or his labor 
i 1 )]- the poor loft him. Every year, be his engagements what 
they might, he retired eight entire days to give himself up to 
pr. iyor, and in the meanwhile he interrupted the most holy 
occupation 1 -!, that he might the better entertain himself with 
God alone. 

At all times his prayer was fervent. Sighs of a love that he 
c ;i; d not control wove heard escaping him. and he alone was 
unconscious. What passed between God and him? Did his 
prayer follow the ordinary way of considerations in the 
understanding, and affections in the heart, or did it proceed 
solely, without labor and without any effort- of nature, from the- 
operation of the Divine Spirit? His humility careful !v con- 


coaled nil. But when descending iVora the holy mountain, his 
countenance at tin:cs appeared all resplendent. 1 ke unto that of 
Moses. ar,d the ardor of his soul, illuminating his entire person, 
entered into his words and actions. His discourse at the 
conclusion oi 1 prayer more than ordinarily burned with faith 
and with charity; his humility, his mortification, his patience, 
all his virtues shone with new lustre in his conduct 


He induced all those over whom he exercised any influence^ 
to make this morning mental prayer, or meditation, lie 
desired that those preparing for the reception of order, and 
those performing the exercises of retreat should be instructed 
in it, that, tliev might take away with them, as the most 
precious fruit cf their retreat, the habit of it, and the 
resolution to continue it. He himself led the ecclesiastics of 
his Conference, and even the ladies of his Assembly, to 

piacticc it. 

He recommended il particularly to preachers, to cateehisi 
iinrt to directors of souls. "Mental prayer, : he said, "is a 
great book for a preacher; it is there that he will drav from 
;he Eternal V. onl the Divine truths of which He is the source, 
in order to diffuse them afterward* among the people; prayer 
will (it him to touch, the heart and to convert souls." 

But it was his own missionaries,, both in their own interest 
and in behalf of ihe people, that he especially exhorted to tin- 
practice of mental prayer. He said to them: "Give me a man 
of prayer, and he will be capable of everything; he can say with 
the Apostle: lean do all things in Him who strengthens 
and comforts me." 1 And he said: "The Congregation of the 
Mission will subsist as long as the exercise of mental prayer is 
faithfully maintained in it, because prayer is like an impregna 
ble rampart that will .protect the missionoiies from every 
assault; it is a mystic arsenal, or like the Tower of David, 
which will furnish all s.n-ts of arms, not only for defence, but 
also to attack and rout ::ll the enemies of C.od s glory and of 
the salvation of souls/ 

He required that meditation be made as well in .sickness as in 


health, on days of repose as on those oflabor. " My Lord., 
the Prince of Conti" he said in thir, connection. \vill one day 
be our judge, at least he will be mine. lie is admirable in His 
fidelity to the exercise of prayer; he devotes two hours to it 
every day, one in the morning and the other in the evening. Be 
his occupations ever so great, no matter what company he has, 
in it he never fails. It is true he is not so bound to the precise 
hour that he cannot advance or delay it according to necessity. 
Ma} God grant us this attraction for union with Him in. 

It was in the morning, at the conclusion of his own prayer, 
th.u Vincent <:ave his counsel and instructions to his mission 
aries. He called upon them, at least twice a week, to give an 
account of the good thoughts that Go:l had given them during 
meditation. This repetition of prayer had for him an espccud 
charm. Even when away from his Community, in travelling, 
he made use of it. When he journeyed, even with seculars, he 
succeeded in gaining them over not only to employ a certain time 
each day in meditation, but also to interchange the communica 
tions which the Spirit cf God had made to each. The domestics 
were invited to speak in their turn, and one of them once 
related: "Having considered that our Lord has recommended 
assistance to the poor. I thought I. ought to do something for 
them ; but being poor myself, and not able to give anything, 1 
took the resolution of at least rendering them some little 
honor, to speak kindly to them when they speak to me, and 
even to take oil my hat in saluting them/ 1 

These words impressed Vincent; he thanked God who loves 
to communicate Himself to the simple, lie induced pious ladies 
to establish the custom of repetition of prayer among their 
servants, and he was confirmed in his own practice of interro 
gating the least of his brothers, at lit. La.xnrus. as well as the 
most .learned of the missionaries.. 

In fact, at each repetition of prayer, lie always invited three 
or four t-> speak, and, no matter how pressing were the calls 
elsewhere, he listened to them with kindness and with joy, for 
eiiliiv hours. It afforded mutiuil edification ; it was a school 
:i practical lesson from which, the- new-comers and the incxpcri- 


cnccd might form themselves in the great art of mental p -ayer. 
Our Saint j-ct himself to explain to the Daughters of Charity, 
in the conferences of the 1st and 31st of May, 1G48. the nature 
and the excellence of this prayer. He said: " Tlr.rc is nothing 
which Our Lord has so much recommendel to His Apostles, 
since he exhorted them to ask the LY.ther anything in His 
Name and promised t! em at the same time that it wou d be 
granted. But these words were not addressed merely to the 
Apostles; they were .also intended for all Christians. There 
are certain persons, naturally timid and fearful, who dare say 
nothing through fear of being repulsed, who dare propose 
nothing out of fear of being ill-received, and who dare ask 
nothing through fear of be ng refused. Now, Jesus Christ gives 
us complete assurance that the Eternal Father will be well 
pleased to have us ask Him, in +hc Xfunc of His Son, what we 
desire, and that lie is ready to grant it to us; and He is not 
content to assure its of this, but that we may pray with more 
confidence. He promises it with a kind oath, of using the words: 
Amen, I say to you. 

"He Himself has given us the example. Jesus was a man 
of prayer. From His most tender age, lie, at times, escaped 
from the presence of the Blessed Virgin arc! St. Josopk that 
He might, with more liberty, address His prayers to God, His 
Father. When about thirty years of age, He withdrew into the 
desert whciv He remained forty days in order to prepare 
Himself, by prayer and fasting, for the preaching of His 
Gospel; and during the entire course of His laborious life He was 
ever punctual to prayer, going from time to time to Jerusalem, 
and often separating Himself from His Apostles in order to 
pray. The night before His passion. He prayed at different 
interval with su-h fervor that for three hours He was in a 
bloody sweat and suffered mortal agony. 

Learn, therefore, well, the nature of prayer. What 
nourishment is to the body, prayer is to the soul; and as a 
person who takes his repast only every two, or three, or four days 
would directly become faint and unable to perform his duties, 
having neither sticngth nor vigor, so a soul that does not devote 
a certain specified time to prayer, or does it but rarely, will 
become entirely tepid, will languish, will be without strength 


D." virtue 1 , will be troublesome to others and insupportable to* 

it.--.rir, and will become disgusted with its state ami its 

Prayer is, as it were, the irrigation of our souls . Florists ami 
gardener!? are careful to take their t ; me in watering their plants 
twice a day, during the heats and dryness of .summer, and the}- 
do M> with intelligence, for otherwise their plants would perish. 
But with this care the roots receive ;;ourishmcnt from the 
earth, and a certain humidity, coming from the watering, runs up 
the stock, and gives life to the branches and to the leaves, ar.d 
taste to the fruit, So, too, dryness coming upon the garden of 
our souls, all plants therein would perish if the care and labor 
of 1 he gardener were wanting, that is, if they be without, prayer 
which, like a gentle dew, every morning softens oui- souls by 
the grace which it draws down upon them. Are we wearied 
from the incidents and annoyances with which, during the day, 
we meet, we have, again, in the evening, this sweet and 
refreshing means to give vigor to our actions. Oh, what great 
fruit the soul would bear in a short time were it careful to 
refresh itself with this sacred moisture! It would be seen to- 
advance every day from virtue to virtue, just as the gardener 
perceives his plants growing in proportion as he waters them; 
as a beautiful aurora that rises in tlie morning and constantly 
increases till noon, so, too, that soul makes uninterrupted 
progr ss until it reaches the Sun of Justice, Who is the true 
light ! the. world, and is lost in Him, as the aurora is, in some 
measure, lost in the midday sun. 

"Prayer is, as it were, as the soul of our soul. The soul it 
is that gives life to the body, that givey motion to it, that- 
enables it to spen-k and to act, and as the body without the soul 
is but an unsightly corpse with neither movement nor action, so 
:s soul without prayer is devoid of feeling and movement for the- 
service of God, having no longer any but low and grovelling 
thoughts for the tilings of earth. 

Prayer is a mirror in which the soul sees all its stains, its 
ugliness, and all that which makes it disagreeable to God. 
People in the world never leave their houaes without precisely 
attiring themselves neatly,, and consulting their mirror to see it" 

there be anything about them that might shock propriety, and 
some are so vain as to bear a, mirror attached to their girdle so 
.as to be able to look at themselves i v om time to time. Now, if 
people of the world employ such means to please men, is i; not 
far more just that persons consecrated to God would adorn 
themselves in the mirror of prayer, by means of aspirations and 
little reviews, and when they discover anything displeasing to 
the Divine Majesty, to ask pardon in order to enter again into 
His favor. 

" It is chiefly in prnycrthat God makes known to us what He 
wishes us to do, or to avoid. The holy fathers are exultant 
when they speak- of prayer, and declare, among other things, 
-that it is a fountain of Juventas wherein the soul grows young 
again. It is in prayer that a blinded soul recovers its sight, that a 
soul, deaf to the voice of God, becomes attentive to His holy 
inspirations, that the soul which was heavy ami sluggish in the 
things of salvation, on account of its evil habits, becomes strong, 
full of courage and of fervor. Whence comes it that we see 
.persons stupid, ignorant, without education, and without 
knowledge of the mysteries of our religion change, in so short a 
time, if it be not through prayer, the fountain of Juvcntas, in 
which they grow young and are renewed 

; Prayer is an elevation of the mind to God. In prayer the 
soul o-ot-s out of itself, as it were, to seek God in Himself. 


Prayer is an interview of the sowl with God; it is a mutual 
communication wherein God tells, the soul interiorly what He 
wishes it to know, and to do; wherein the soul tells God the 
demands which He Himself has made known to it. 

"Prayer is a sermon which we preach to ourselves to convince 
ourselves of the necessity of having recourse to God a::d of 
co-operating Avith His grace to extirpate vice from our souls 
and to implant virtue in them. We must occupy ourselves in 
prayer particularly in combatting that passion or vicious 
inclination that predominates in us, and strive to continually 
mortify it; because, when we overcome that, all the rest is easy. 
But we must be firm in the combat. It is also important to act 
quietly in prayer and not strain tin- mind by lorcc of application 
and through a. desire for line and subtle thoughts; we must 


raise thomind to God and listen to Him, for one word from Him 
will effect more than a thousand reasonings, and more than all 
the speculations of our understanding. I would we had this 
manner of prayer, of elevating ourselves from time to time to 
God.vkeeping ourselves in humble recognition of our own 
nothingness, waiting until it pleases Him to speak to our hearts 
and to give us some word of eternal life. Only that which God 
inspires and comes from Him can piolit us. AYe must, also, 
receive from God what we are to communicate to onr neighbors, 
according to the example of Jesus, who, speaking of Himself, 
said ITe taught others only what He had heard and had learned 
from His Father. 

It is natural to pray. We sec little children do it with joy, 
and God takes a singular pleasure in their little prayers. Mr. 
dc Bcrulle held their prayers in so great esteem that when he 
met children he tooic them by the hand that they might give 
him their blessing. 

" There are two kinds of prayer; the one, vocal, which consists- 
in the sole use of words, and tho other, mental, which is made 
by the miud and heart, without words. The example of Moses 
shows us clearly what virtue, what efficacy there is in mental 
prayer; for the people of God,cag:iged in battle, gained advantage 
according as the holy prophet, without making use of a word,, 
raised his hands towards heaver., or lost ground, as he lowered 
them. At another time, when Moses was in mental prayer, God. 
spoke to him: Why do you prevent me from destroying 
this ungrateful people? The Holy Law-giver only wished the 
more in prayer, and obtained mercy lor his people. What, 
then, must be the efficacy of prayer, since it can tie the hands- 
of God? 

" Mental prayer is made in two ways: either by the under 
standing or by the will. The prayer of the understanding is- 
when we strive to recollect ourselves, and to place ourselves in 
the presence of God in order the better to seek to understand, 
tho mystery or the truths proposed, so as to draw from them 
suitable instruction, to excite affections proper to the subject, 
and to take strong resolutions to lly evil and to embrace the 
good which God gives us the grace to know. Though the 
resolutions and all cctioEB arc aclt of the will, ytt the prayer is 


"called of the understanding, because it consists principally in 
the search of truth. It ir named, move frequently, meditation. 

"The other, which is principally in the will, and is called 
affective, is not suitable for every one. God gives it to whom 
He pleases, and when lie pleases. Men cannot teach it; they 
can attain to it neither by their own industry, nor by their own 
effort. In this prayer, a soul, without contributing- anything of 
its own. finds itself suddenly filled with lights and holy 
affections. The understanding is at times enlightened in certain 
truths incomprehensible to all others, avid the will is aflame 
with all species of good desires." 

Thus we seo that the prayer which the saint counselled and 
taught was particularly positive and practical, following the 
character of his mind and of his virtnr. He rcspccicl that 
extraoidinary and sublime prayer to which God elevates certain 
favored souls by a particular operation of His spirit rather than 
by their own industry and the efforts of their faculties; he 
recognized that God s conduct in regard to privileged souls is 


admirable and His ways incomprehensible; still, he held to the 
maxim of the apostle, not to easily believe in all spirits, and to 
prove then) well to discover if they be from God; he knew 
further, from St. Paul, that Satan often transforms himself into 
an angel of light, and that he leads astray as well by the 
appearance of good as by the suggestion of evil; he knew, too, 
from his own experience that there are kinds of prayer elevated 
and perfect in appearance which, nevertheless, lead in the 
wrong way. He, therefore, advised all to follow the humblest 
and commonest way, as being the more secure and within the 
reach of all. until God, but God Himself and God alone, would 
take hold of the hand and lead unto another. 

Moreover, recalling to mind the predilection of God for the 
lowly and simple, he said further to the Daughters of Charity: 
"Although persons of learning have great facilities to make 
their prayer well on account of the lights and the knowledge 
which they possess, yet God s intercourse with the simple is far 
different from that which He holds with the learned, as our Lord 
assures us in these words: I give Thee thanks () Father, Lord 
of Heaven and earth, because Thou hast hidden these things 
from the -wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to tho little. 


On tiiose souls God delights to shed His most glorious lights; 
and His greatest graces; He lays open before the n what the 
schools have been unable to discover, and He develops for them 
mysteries in which the most learned see but darkness. A 
theologiar , it is true, discourses of God, as science has to ught 
him. but a person of prayer speaks of Him in a totally different 
manner; the theologian speaks from an acquired science, and the 
person of prayer, penetrated with charit} , from an infused 
science; and in this case the theologian is not the more learned, 
and lie irant maintain silence in the presence of a man of 
prayer because the latter treats of God far differently. 

"Let us, therefore, persevere in prayer without being 
discouraged by I ryness or difficulties, l^urir.g twenty years,. 
St. Teresa was unable to make mental prayer, and did not 
understand it. She, however, persevered and God imparted 
to her aii eminent gift of prayer. In faithfully striving to make 
our pr:,yer, we, at least, practice every kind of virtue; obedience, 
humility, faith, hope, charity, and, above all. mortification, which, 
like an inseparable companion, should always accompany 
pr.-yer." All these instructions, and others still, we find 
admirably developed in a conference. to the missionaries, on the 
loth of August. 1057. The saint explained, successively, what 
is to be avoided, and what -must be practiced in order to pray 
properly and well. 

Careless-ness first must be avoided. " Prayer is not thought 
of; we come to prayer 1 know not why, through custom, 
because others come; we think of everything, we do not at all 
dispose ourselves for prayer. Prayer is an elevation of the 
mind to God. wherein we represent to Him our necessities, and 
implore His Divine assistance; we should, then, beforehand 
prepare ourselves well for it. What are we about to do ? What 
should we hope for in treating with so great a Majesty? Of 
what have we the most need? What grace should we ask of 
Him ? 

Let us place a guard over the levity and inconstancy of 
our poor mh-ds, that we may retain oar thoughts in the 
presence of God, that we may enchain that flighty imagination 
that runs everywhere, and yet, let us do so without too great 



an effort, without strain, lor that is always hurtful, and never 

"Finally, let us avoid curiosity. We must not come to 
prayer to hear what will be said, to learn, to stuch , to enter 
deeply into the most hidden mysteries in order afterwards to 
discourse well on them. You will sny : I will be asked an 
account of my prayer. I must have something good to say." 
Jn such case, wo invent, we subtilize, we arrange in order in our 
mind, and all this is done forthe purpose of display in repetition, 
to have something beautiful to say, and to be able to sn- it in a 
way other than common. No, gentlemen, this is no! to pray 
but to study, and God grant it maybe nothing more. 

" But here, now, is what we must do. We must first place 
ourselves in the presence of God, in considering Him either as 
He is in the heavens, seated upon His throne of Majesty, whence 
He turns His eyes upon us, and contemplates all things; or in 
His immensity, everywhere present, here and elsewhere, in the 
highest heavens and in the lowest depth of the abyss, seeing our 
hearts and penetrating the most secret folds of our conscience; 
or in His presence in the most holy sacramevt of the altar. Oh ! 
my Savior, behold me. a poor and miserable sinner, behold me 
at the feet of Thy Divine Majesty, behold me at the foot of the 
altar when Thou reposest. Grant, oh, my Savior! that I may 
do nothing unworthy this holy presence. ():; finally, we may con 
sider Him as within us, penetrating our inmost nature and rest 
ing in the depth of cur heart. And. do not question if He be 
there. Who doubts it? The Pagans themselves have said: 
God is amon j us, and u-v have within its communi-nys with 
L eaven ; that spirit comes from above. This truth is not 
questioned. * But Thou. Lard, art among us. (Jere. 14-9). 
Nothing is more certain. And this point, this placing ourselves in 
the presence of God, is vety important, for upon it depends the 
body of the prayer; that well done, the rest follows of itself. 

"Then, let us beg God to give us His grace, that we may 
properly converse with His Divine Majesty, recognizing that 
of ourselves we can do nothing, conjuring Him by His great 
love for us. by His infinite merits, through the intercession of 
the Blessed Virgin and the saints. 


"We. then, propose to ourselves the subject of prayer. This 
subject is cither sensible, or insensible: if it be sensible, as for 
instance a mysteiy, we muf-t represent it to ourselves and pay 
attention to all its parts and all its circumstances; if it be 
imperceptible by the senses, as a virtue, we must consider in 
what it consists, what arc its chief qual ; tics, as also its signs, 
its effects, and especially its acts and the means to put it in 
practice. It is good, abo, to seek after reasons that will induce 
us to embrace the virtue upon which we meditate, and to pause 
at those motives that touch us rncst. They may be drawn from 
the Sacred Scriptures, or else from the holy Fathers; and when 
memory recalls certain passages from their writings, appro; riate 
to the subject of prayer, it is well to digest them in our mind; 
but we should not search for them in time of prayer, nor even 
apply our mind to the consideration of many of them; for, to 
what purpose delay the thought on a collection of passages, and 
reason, unless, perchance, to enlighten and render subtle our 
understanding? And this is to apply ourselves to study rather 
than to prayer. 

"When lire is wanted, flint is used. it. is struck, and, as soon 
as tho fire catches the substance prepared for it, the candle is 
lighted; and he. who having lighted the candle would still 
continue to strike the Hint, would make himself ridiculous. In 
the same way, when a soul is sufficiently enlightened by 
considerations, what need is there to seek after more and to 
hammer and rehammer cur thoughts in order to multiply reasons 
and thoughts? Do you not see that it is a loss of time, and that 
then we must apply ourselves to move the will, and to excite its 
affections by the beauty of the virtue and the deformity of the 
contrary vice ? This is not difficult, for the will follows the 
light of the understanding, and inclines to what is proposed to 
it as good and desirable. But this is not yet enough. It is 
not sufficient to have good affections, we must go further and 
take resolutions to work earnestly, further to acquire the virtue, 
proposing to ourselves to put it into practice, by producing its 
acts. And this is the important point, and the fruit that we should 
derive from prayer; hence it is that we must not pass lightly 
over our resolutions, but reiterate them and imprint them well 
on our hearts; and it is good to foresee the obstacles that n ay 

ruAVHi:. C3 

arise, and the means that will aid to put our resolutions into 

practice, and to resolve to avoid one and to adopt the other. 

"Now, for this, it is not necessary, nor often expedient, to 
have i-rand thoughts on the virtue that we wish to acquire; no, 

O ~ 

nor even to desire to have these high thoughts; for the effort 

to render virtues present to the senses whilst the} are purely 
spiritual qualities may often injure and trouble the mind, and 
the two gveat application of the understanding heats the brain 
and occasions pains in the head; as also acts of the v.ill too 
often repeated, or too much forced, dry and weaken th" heart. 
We must use moderation in everything; excess in no matter 
what, and particularly in prayer, is uever praiseworthy. We 
should act moderately and calmly, and preserve, above all, 
peace of mind and of heart. 

"In finishing oar -prayer, we should thank God for the lights 
and graces that He accorded us during it, and for the resolutions 
with which He inspired us, and beg His assistance to put into 
execution, as soon as possible, what we proposed to ourselves, 
to do. 

"God be praised! this is what we do in prayer. And now- 
let us devote ourselves to this practice of prayer, since through 
it all good comes to us, If we persevere in our vocation, it is 
on account of prayer; i( we succeed in our labors, it is on, 
account of prayer; if we avoid falling into sin, it is on account 
of prayer; if we continue in charity, if we be saved, it is to God. 
and to prayer we owe it. As God refuses nothing to prayer, so. 
also does He grant scarcely any tiling without it: Pray ye 
therefore the Lord of the harvest. ( .Mat. ix, 08); no, nothing, not 
even the dirftii-ion of His gospel and what interests most His 
glory: Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest. But, O Lord, 
that concerns Thee, and is Thy affair. No matter: Pi\iy ya 
therefore the Lord of the harvest. Let us all, then, humbly ask of. 
God that He will cause us to adopt the practice of prayer." 

To ascertain if he were well understood, if his method were 
well followed, or to give each one some special advice he 
interrogated in turn the brothers and the priests: "Brother, 
what method do you always follow in your prayers?" " Father,. 
J always divide the subject into certain points." " You do. 


well, brother. Yet when we take a mystery as a subject for 
meditation it is not necessary, nor expedient, to dela}- on a 
particular virtue and to make our ordinary division of the 
subject in regard to that virtue ; it i .;. better to consider the 
historv of the mystery and pay attention to all the circumstances, 
there being none, be they ever so little, or so common, in 
which great treasures of grace are not hidden, if AVC only knew 
how to search. This I recognized lately, nl a conference of 
these gentlemen who assemble here They had, as the subject 
of their entertainment, what was necessary to be done to spend 
well the time of Lent, It was a very common subject, one the} 
were accustomed to treat every year, and yet such good things 
were said that all present f ,vere greatly moved, and I, myself, 
particularly; and I can say in all truth, I never s:i wtlic members 
of the congregation more devout, nor heard discourses that 
made a greater impresssion on the mind; for, though they had 
previously spoken several times on the same subject, yet it 
Deemed as if they were not the same persons who spoke, God 
having inspired them in prayer with a totally different language. 
See, my brethren, how God conceals treasures in things that 
appear so common, and in the least r-ircnmstanccs of the truths 
and mysteries of our holy religion. They are as the little grains 
of mustard-seed which become large trees when it pleases our 
Lord to extend His blessings to them. Our subjects of 
meditation resemble the store? cf merchants; and as there are 
stores in which yon can find only one class of goods, and others 
in which you can obtain anything you desire, so, too, are there 
subjects of meditation which instruct in one virtue only, whilst 
others contain the riches of every virtue; such, for instance, are 
the mysteries of the birth, of the life, and of the death and 
resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. To draw fruit from them 
we must adore our Lord in the condition in which the mystery 
represents Him, praise Him. and return thanks for the graces 
that lie h-s merited for us, humbly represent to Him our 
miseries and our wants, and ask of Him the sr,>-cor and the 
graces necessary lo imitate and practice the virtues that He 
there teaches." 

"Brother," he asked of another, "do you derive any profit 
from uraver: But little. Father. How does this come. 


rejoined the Saint, "during- the repetition of prayer I was 
thinking within myself how ii. was that some made so little 
progress in this holy exercise. There is reason to fear lest the 
evil be that the} do not sufficiently practice mortification and 
that they give too much liberty to the senses. If we read what 
the most expert masters of the spiritual life have left us in their 
writings, we can see that they unanimously held that the 
practice of mortification is absolutely necessary in order to pray 
well, and that, to dispose ourselves properly for prayer, we must 
mortify not only the eyes, the tongue, the cars and all the 
exterior senses, but we must also mortify the faculties of the 
soul, the understanding, the memory and the will. Tn this way, 
mortification will be a good preparation for prayer, and 
reciprocally, prayer will help to properly practice mortification. 

" Another cause of this little progress is that some have line 
thoughts and good sentiments, but do not apply them to them 
selves, and do not reflect on their own conditions. And yet 
has been very often recommended that, when God communicates 
in prayer any light or any good sentiment, we make use of it for 
our own particular wants. We must reflect on our own defects, 
confess and acknowledge them before God, and at times even 
accuse ourselves of them before the congregation for the sake of 
humbling ourselves and to experience greater confusion, and 
take strong resolutions to correct ourselves. This is never done 
without profit." 

Thereupon, a brother fell upon his knees and asked pardon 
for having done nothing in prayer for some time b:ick. and for 
not being able even to apply himself to it. "May God bless. 
you. brother," said the Saiut, " He sometimes permits that we 
lose the liking thrt we felt for prayer, and the attraction prayer 
had for us, and even that we grow weary in it. But this is, 
ordinarily, to exercise and to try us, and we must not become 
down-hearted, nor give way to discouragement. There are 
many good souls who are treated in that manner, and so have 
been many of the saints. Yes, I know several very virtuous 
persons who feel only repugnance and dryness in prayer; but as 
they are faithful to God, they make good use of them, and this 
contributes, not a little, to their advancement in virtue. It is 
true that when this aversion and dvyness happen to those who 


begin to give themselves to prayer, there is sometimes reason 
to fear that this comes from negligence on their part, and it is to v 
this, my brother, that you must pay attention. But, perhaps, 
it is not your fault. Do you not experience a pain in your 
head? Yes, Father; and it comes from having wished, in 
the last retreat, to make everything in prayer present to the 
senses. You should not act in that manner, brother, nor 
strive, in prayer, to perceive by the senses that which by its 
nature is imperceptible, for this is self-love, which in this way 
seeks itself. In prnyer we should act in a spirit of faith, and 
in a spirit of faith consider the mysteries and the virtues upon 
which we meditate, sweetly, humbly, without making any effort 
with our imagination, employing the will in producing affections- 
and resolutions rather than the understanding to obtain knowl 
edge. And, meanwhile, \ve should persevere courageously, in 
imitation of our Lord, who beinfj in an wjotvj prayed tlte 
lonyerS fLtikc xxii , 4:?.) Prayer is a gift of God which we 
must demand of Him with importunity, saying with the apostles: 
1 Lord, teach its to pray, (Luke xi., 1); and we must, in patience 
and humility, await this grace from His Goodness. " 

Another brother speaks in his turn: "I cannot make my 
prayer Avcll because I have no mind. Of my faculties I am 
able to use but one, and that is the will. It begins, from the 
moment the subject is proposed, and without any reasoning, to- 
produce affections, at one time thanking God. again asking 
pardon and exciting confusion and regret for sin; or else 
supplicating Him to grant the grace to imitate our Lord in 
some of His virtues, and then in taking resolutions." 

Continue that way, brother." interrupted the saint, "and 
do not trouble yourself about the employment of the undcrstand- 
in<>- which is used only to excite the will. Since yours, without 


considerations, goes thus to the affections and to the resolutions 
of practicing the virtue, may God grant you the to keep 
on in that way and become more and more faithful to His holy 
will! The soul resembles a galley that moves on the water 
bv means of oars and sails. As the oars are not used unless 
when the wind fails, and as the mailing is more pleasant and 
faster when it is favorable, so we, iu like manner, must use 
considerations in prayer when the movement of the Holy Ghost 


is not felt, but when this heavenly wind blows in upon our 
hearts we must abandon ourselves to its actions." 

Vincent then applied himself to show the difference between 
the thoughts that are inspired by God and those that come 
from ourselves. Kemork," said he. "the difference between 
the light of the fire and that of the sun. At night, our fire 
gives us light and we see tilings by means of its flume, but we 
see them only imperfectly, we perceive but the surface, ard the 
brightness can go no further; but the sun fills and vivifies 
everything with it? light; it not only discloses the exterior of 
things, but by an inherent force penetrates the interior. Now, 
the thoughts and considerations which spring from our 
understanding are but as little fires which show, only slightly, 
the outside of things, and effect nothing more; but the lights of 
g:acc, which the Sun of Justice sheds upon our souls, disclose 
and enter into the depths of our hearts, find excite and stimu 
late them to produce wonderful effects. We must, consequently, 
ask of God that lie Himself enlighten us and inspire us with 
what is pleasing to Him. All these lofty and far-fetched 
considerations are not prayer; they a: e often rather the outcome 
of pride. And of those who content themselves with such 
thoughts. and who find their pleasure in them, it may be said, as 
of the preacher who would show off his tine language, Avhosc 
entire delight and complacency would be to see his auditory 
satisfied with what he utters; in this, it is evident, it would not 
be the Holy Gho.-t, but rather the spirit of pride that would 
enlighten the understanding and give expression to all those 
fine thoughts; to speak more properly, it would be the demon 
that would influence him and cause him to speak in that fashion. 
It is the same i:i prayer when we strain after beautiful 
considerations, when we entertain ourselves with extraordinary 
thoughts, and especially when this is done for the purpose of 
giving them out in repetition that others may admire. There 
is in this a species of blasphemy; it is, after a manner, to be 
idolatrous of our own minds. For, whilst treating with God in 


prayer, you meditate on what satisfies your pride, you employ 
this holy time in seeking your own gratification, and. in taking 
delight in the beauty of your thoughts, you sacrifice to this 
idol of vanity. 


"Ah! ray brothers, lot us guard against this folly; let us 
acknowledge that we arc laden down with misery; let us seek 
only after that which will lead us to the solid practice of virtue. 
Let us. in prayer, abase ourselves even to nothingness, 
aud in our repetitions humbly tell our thoughts; and should 
any that seem to us beautiful present themselves let us greatly 
distrust and fear lest it be the spirit of pride that produces, or 
the D:vil that suggests them. For this reason we ought always 
profoundly humble ourselves when these fine thoughts come to 
us, cither whilst in prayer, or in preaching, or in conversation 
with others. Alas! The Son of God could have charmed alt 
men by His all-Divine eloquence and yet He did not wish to do 
so; but. on the contrary, in teaching the truths of His Gospel, 
He made use of common and familiar expressions and words; 
He loved alwa}"s to be despised and contemned rather than to 
be praised and esteemed. Let us, then, my brethren, see how 
we may be able to imitate Him best, and for this purpose let us. 
suppress, in prayer, as elsewhere, all thoughts of pride; let us 
follow in everything the traces of the humility of Jesus; let our 
words be simple, common and familiar; and, when God permits 
it, let us be glad that what we say obtains no consideration, 
that we are despised, that we are laughed at, holding it for 
certain that .without a true and sincere humility, it is impossible 
for us to be of profit, either to ourselves or to others." 

His practical sense always preferred in prayer affections to 
thoughts, and. again, resolutions to affections. "I am in 
doubt," said a missionary in repeating his prayer, " whether I 
sliMild hereafter take any more resolutions, so unfaithful am I 
in putting them into practice." "My dear sir," Vincent im 
mediately rejoined, " that is not a sufficient reason; for, as in 
taking nourishment, though we do not appear to derive any 
benefit, still we do not, for that reason, abstain from eating. To 
take good resolutions is one of the most important parts, nay, 
the most important part of prayer. It is to this we must 
d- vote ourselves, and not so much to reasoning or to language. 
The principal fruit of prayer consists in forming good and strong 
resolutions, in being penetrated with them, in being well con 
vinced of their necessity, and in taking the proper means to put 
them into practice, foreseeing and overcoming nil difficulties. 


Yet this is not enough, for, after all, our resolutions are in 
themselves but physical and moral actions, and, though we do 
well in forming them in our hearts and in being steadfast in them, 
we ought, nevertheless, recognize that whatever good they 
possess, that their practice and their effects depend absolutely 
on God. And why is it, think you, that we most frequently fail 
in our resolutions ? It is because we trust too much in them, we 
confide in our good desires, we lean on our own strength, and 
this is the reason we derive no fruit. Hence, after taking reso 
lutions in prayer, we must pray to God, and, with a distrust in 
ourselves, ask for His grace that it ma} r please Him to 
ricate all that is necessary to fructify these resolutions. And. al 
though, after this, we again fail in them, not only once or twice, but 
in maivy instances, and even during a length of time, then, notwith 
standing that we did not practice a single one of their., neverthe 
less we should not neglect to renew them and to have recourse to 
the mercy of God and ask for the aid of Ills grace Past faults, 
should, indeed, be a subject of humiliation, but not a reason why 
we should lose courage; arid no matter into what fault we fall we 
should not, on tb at account, diminish in anything the confidence 
that God wishes we should have in Him; but, on the contrary^ 
we should take a new resolution to rise, and, with His grace, 
which we should ask, be careful not to fall again. Although 
physicians see no effect produced by the remedies they prescribe 
to a sick person, yet they do not, on that account, cease to 
continue and renew them until they perceive some ground for 
hope. If, then, in sickness of body, though long anddangeious, 
remedies are constantly applied, even when no improvement is 
vis blc, ho\v much greater reason is there to do the same in 
regard to the infirmities of our souls in which, when it pleases 
God, grace works wonders?" 



Devotion, such as we understand it here, is a virtue whereby 
we manifest respect and affection for all that relates to Divine 
honor and worship. 

The devotion of St. Vincent do Paul took its rise in the 
exalted and profound idea that he entertained of the infinite 
grandeur of God. 

This devotion filled his heart, animated all his words, 
manifested itself in every action of the day, in his entire 
conduct. In the morning, at the first sound of the bell, he 
arose from his bed, made the sign of the cross, prostrated, and 
kissed the floor. He adored the Majesty of God. gave Him 
thanks for His glory, for that which he gave His Son, the 
Blessed Virgin, the Holy Angels, his Guardian Angel, St. 
John the Baptist, the Apostles. St. Joseph and nil the other 
Saints in Paiadi.^e. He ngain thanked Him for the graces 
bestowed upon the Church, for those that he received himself, and 
particularly, for having preserved him during the night. lie 
offered Him his thoughts, his words and actions, in unison with 
those of Jesus Christ; he asked of Him to keep him from all 
sin :md to aid him in faithfully accomplishing all that woi.ld be 
most agreeable to Him. 

After these first acts of religion he repaired to the Church, 
where, notwithstanding his age and the swelling in his limbs, he 
mived before the youngest and the most healthy. The sight 


of his family assembled before our Lord rejoiced and consoled 
his soul. 

Having finished his prayer, he recited the litanies of the Holy 
Name of Jesus, and. among the glorious epithets the Church 
applies, he dwelt with an especial delight on the one: " Jesns, 
Father of the poor." After prayer, he went almost every day to 
confession, because he could not bear in himself even the 
appeal-mice of sin. Scarcely ever could his confessor find 
matter for absolution. "Ah! sir," the humble Saint would say, 
"if you could see me as God makes me see myself, you would 
judge otherwise " 

He then prepared himself for mass, and, though but just com* 
from prayer, he spent a considcral le period in this preparation. 
He finally vested and celebrated mass. He appeared at the 
altar a- another Jesus Christ, victim and sacrificcr; as victim, 
he abased and humbled himself; r> a criminal, as one 
condemned to death, he recited the Confiteor, pronounced the 
Domine, non sum dicjni<, and all the words of the liturgy that 
express humility and compunction, especially the Nubls quoqut 
peccatoribits, concerning which he wrote: " When 3-011 come to 
the Nob s qu .que of the mass think of me as of the greatest 
sinner in the world;" as sacrificer, he was grave and majestic as 
the Savior, and at the same time full of sweetness, of serenity, 
of mercy; it was with these sentiments expressed on his 
countenance find in his attitude tint he turned towards the 
people, and. by the sound of his voice, by the manner in which 
he extended his arms, it was perceived that his heart expanded 
and that he desired to embrace them all. as on another Calvary, 
in the charity of Jesus Christ. He recited the prayers of the 
mass and performed the ceremonies with neither slowness noi 
precipitation, occupying, but not going beyond, the half-hour. 
He pronounced all the words in a tone moderate and agreeable, 
distinct and devout, and with evident unison between the lips 
and the heart. At the reading of the Gospel, he redoubled his 
respect and his attention, and, when he met with some word of 
our Lord, he recited it in a more tcmter tone of voice, and with 
more affection. At the double cflirmation of the God of Truth: 
"Amen, amen, I say to you," he recollected himself more 
especially, so as to pay greater i.ticntion to the words that 


followed, wherein he suspected something important, or some 
mystery; and he read them slowly, with faith and submission, 
in order to impress them deeply on his heart. All who assisted 
at his mass were greatly edified. "My God," they said, 
4< behold a priest that says mass well ! ""That must be a holy 
man," added one; another said: " He is rather an angel at the 
altar. 1 

And Ihus he said mass every day, except on the first three days 
of his annual retreat, on which, according to the usage of the 
Congregation, he omitted it. These days of penance and 
greater purification excepted. in the city or country, at home, 
or in traveling, sick or well, he never, up to the last weeks of his 
life, when his limbs refused longer to support him. omitted the 
daily sacrifice. 

Having said mass, he assisted at, and often served, a second, 
lie was overburdened with work, he was old, eighty years of 
U o- e , he conld not walk without a support nor could he kneel 


without the greatest difficulty; no matter, the venerable 
superior, with the simplicity of a young cleric, and v;ith more 
respect and greater devotion, served the least of his priests at 
the altar, lie did it in faith and in love; he also wished to 
give an example to his clerics, that they should never permit, 
while they were present, a lay person to serve mass. " It is a 
shame for an ecclesiastic, one who is set apart for the service 
of the altar," he said to them, with Bourdoise, " to allow, in his 
presence, others to fill his office." 

On festivals and at solemn offices his piety shone with new 
lustre. He foresaw and carefully informed himself in regard to 
all the ceremonies. No rubric, consequently, was violated by him, 
nor did he permit a departure from any. He humbled himself 
greatly before God, and before his brethren, for his inability to 
make, the genuflexion in the nv.niner prescribed by the Church, 
and whenever he thought that he failed in any other of the 
ceremonies, he, immediately after the service, on his knees 
asked pardon of the whole Community. And faults committed by 
others he imputed to himself, which, however, did not hinder 
him, notwithstanding his great weakness, from severely 
reprimanding them. Moreover, he ga^e such example and such 
edification that the services at St. iLazarus were known 


throughout nil Paris for the religion, the dignity and the 
modesty that accompanied them. Vincent himself, when he 
sang, or recited the psalms in choir, resembled less a man than 
an angel from Heaven chanting the praises of God. His priesta 
and his clerics imitated his respect and his piet} r . With eyes 
cast down and fixed on their books, in a modest immobility, 
they gave no signs of life save by the pious sound of their voice 
and the emotions emanating from the Divine love within 

Such as Vincent showed himself in the public offices, such 
was he in the private recitation of the breviary under the eye 
of God alone. He always recited it with uncovered head, on 
his knees, except during the last two or three years of his lift- 
when his infirmities, forbidding him that humble and respectful 
posture, forced him to remain seated And on his knees, too, 
and with uncovered head, he daily read a portion of the Sacred 
Scripture, and particularly of the New Testament. 

His devotion extended to all the mysteries of our holy 
religion, and, in particular, to that of the Most Holy Trinity, 
the first of all ; then to the Incarnation which, for us, is the 
most touching manifestation of the Trinity, and to the Holy 
Eucharist which perpetuates, on earth, the Incarnation. 

If his devotion to the Holy Eucharist, considered as sacrifice- 
were great, it was none the less so towards this same mystery 
considered as Sacrnment. 

When before the Holy Tabernacle, he always maintained 
himself on both knees, and in a posture so humble that he. 
seemed, the more to testify his respect, to wish to abase himself 
to the centre of the earth, and with such faith manifested in his 
countenance, one would say that he saw Jesus with his eyes ; Avith 
such devotion, he would have inspired the most, incredulous 
with faith and the most insensible with piety; in such modesty 
and silence, that he had not a single glance for the greatest 
magnificence, nor a word for the most august personages. 

There he loved to remain all the time that his duties left at 
his disposal, and there he forgot himself for hours together. 
There he went, like Moses of old. to consult the Divine orach: 
in all his difficulties. It was there, back of the high altar of 
St. Lazarus, or in whatever other place he found himself, that 


kneeling and with bare head, he opened and read the letters which 
he saw were important. One day, in the court of the Palace 
in Paris, a letter was handed to him, in which was announced 
the success of some very important rffair. Though suffering 
gre.-i !y in his limbs, he ascended to the high chapel of the 
Pulu jo, and, finding it closed, he at least knelt at the door 
and in this position informed himself of the contents of the 


Before going out he visited our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, 
whom he called the master of the house, to salute Him, to take 
Jeave of Him and to receive His blessing; on re-entering he 
re turned to r ndcr. as it were, an account of his missior, and 
ifclso to thank Him for the graces that he received whilst away, 
and to humble himself for the faults he believed he had 

In passing through the streets if he met the Blessed Sacra 
ment, he immediately, in whatever place he was, threw himself 
on his knees and remained so until it had passed out ,)f sight, 
.-and often, even, he. with bare head, followed it, striving to be as 
near rs his old and infirm members would permit. 

On his journeys, as he passed through village he would 
dismount, or leave the carriage, to go visit the Church and 
salute our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, or, should it happen 
to be closed, to kiss the doorstep; and when come to the end 
of his journey his first visit was again to the church. 

In his sickness, being unable to celebrate mass, he wished 
at least, to receive Hoby Communion, which he did to the eve 
of his death, and with such a respect and such a rapture, that 
it is as useless, as it is impossible, to attempt to describe. 

Profanations, committed by heretics, or by the military, 
grieved him mortally. Tears, extraordinary penances, fervent 
prayers, all were offered in reparation and atonement He 
went himself or sent some of his community in pilgrimage to 
the profaned churches; the priests said rrass and the others 
receive* I Holy Communion there in reparation. He made good 
the material loss caused by sacrilegious thefts of sacred vessels 
and ornaments; and by means of missions he repaired the injury 
done the honor of God and souls by impiety and heresy. 


He adored, in the Incarnation and Eucharist, his God abas 
ing himself to our level, and becoming like unto us, and his 
grateful love ibr Jesus inspired him with the desire to render him 
self, in his turn, similar to Him. lie formed himself upon and he 
lived according to this Divine model. In imitation of Jesus he 
hid, under cover of a lowly and apparently common life, the 
most heroic virtues; under the exterior of a poor peasant, the 
most excellent gifts of both grace and nature; under a constant 
profession of stupidity and ignorance, a judgment the most 
perfect, and a knowledge most extensive. He breathed but 
Jesus, and in his words, in his thoughts and in his . ictiom, he 
repeated but His language, he acted only with Jesus before him 
as a model. Jesus always, Jesus everywhere, Jesus in all 
persons and in all things; such was his doctrine, such his 
morality and such his policy, and this he loved to express in 
one word: " Nothing pleases me but in Jesus Christ," 

This constant and universal keeping in view of Jesus en 
lightened, elevated, and spurred on his charity. He saw Jesus 
as Supreme Pontiff in the person of the Pope, as bishop and 
prince of pastors in the bishops, as high priest in the priests, as 
master and sole doctor in the doctors of divinity, as king of 
kings and as judge of judges in princes r.nd magistrates, ns 
great and noble in men of birth, and as little in the lowly. 
as workman in the person of artisans, as a divine merchant in 
men of traffic, as poor in the poor, as prisoner in pris 
oners, as infirm and agonizing in the sick and dying. Hence, 
his respect and his tenderness for all classes of men, and! 
especially for all those whose lowliness and whose suffering pre 
sented a greater resemblance to the God annihilated and to the 
man of SOITOAVP. 


So faithful an imitation himself of Jesus Christ, he could, in 
turn, serve as a model to his brethren, and transform into rules 
and lessolis for them his own practices And, first of all, he 
endeavored to imbue them with a very high idea of God. He 
said to their one day: Let us strive, my brethren, to conceive 
a great, a very great idea of the majesty and sanctity of God. 


If our mind were sufficiently strong to penetrate a little into the 
immensity of His sovereign excellence, O my Jesus, what high 
sentiments of it would we not conceive! "We could then well 
say with St. Paul that 03*0 hath not seen, nor car heard, nor 
hatli it entered into the heart of man to conceive ar^thing 
comparable to Him. He is an abyss of perfections, an Eternal 
Hieing, most holy, most pure, most perfect and infiritely 
glorious, an infinite good, comprising all goods, and Himself 
incomprehensible. Now this knowledge, which we have, that 
God is infinitely above all knowledge and all created understand 
ing, ought lo be a sufficient motive for us to esteem Him 
infinitely, to annihilate ourselves in His presence, and to cause 
us to speak of His Supreme Majesty with the greatest reverence 
anil submission; and in proportion as we esteem Him, so will 
we love, and this love will beget in us an insatiable desire to 
acknowledge His benefits, and to procure Him true adorers." 

Devotion to the mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity and the 
Incarnation he made an express rule for his community, and the 
Holy See especially approved it in the bull of erection of his 
congregation. " We will endeavor to acquit ourselves of this 
duty with very great care, and if possible in every manner, but 
principally i:i doing these three things: First, in eliciting from 
our inmost heart acts of faith and religion in regard to these 
mysteries; second, in offering every da} in their honor some 
good works, and in celebrating their festivals with as much 
solemnity and devotion as possible; third, in laboring stren 
uously, 1 oth by instruction and example, that the people know 
and honor and worship them." He said to them with regard to 
the celebration of n:ass: " It is not enough to celebrate mass, 
we must, moreover, offer this sacrifice with the greatest possible 
devotion, according to the will of God Himself; conforming 
ourselves, with His grace, as much as we can, to Jesus offering 
Himself, when on earth, to His eternal Father. Let us use all 
endeavor, then, gentlemen, to offer our sacrifices to God in the 
same spirit, in which our Lord offered His, and as perfectly as 
our poor and miserable nature will permit." 

He prescribed the greatest respect in the church and in the 
ceremonies. Precipitation, genuflexions half-made, the least 


negligences in the Divine service were a torment to his exalted 

o o 

idea of religion, and an alarm to his soul ever trembling before 

o * o 

the possibility of scandal. Hence, he took care to correct in 
private, and, if necessary, in public, all the faults that lie 
observed. If one of his members passed before the altar, mak 
ing a genuflexion carelessly and thoughtlessly, he immediately 
called him back, and showed him in what manner and how far 
he should bend before God. On these occasions he would say: 
"We should never condxet ourselves as mere puppets, which 
are made to move qir/Hcly. ;u:d the salutations of which are 
without reverence or soul." And, after his humble habit of 
accounting himself responsible for all faults he added: Who 
is guiltv, my brethren! It is thU miserable person who is 
speakiug to you, and who would cast himself on his knees if he 
could. Excuse my infirmities." And in fact, it was a cruel 
privation to him, and one that he attributed to his sins, when he 
could no longer kneel, and he publicly asked pardon for it, and 
besought them not to be scandalized. Nevertheless," he 
added, "if I see the congregation relax I will force myself on 
my knees, cost Avhat ; t will, and rise as best I may, with the 
aid of some of you, or in making use of my hands, so that I 
may thus give the example that I ought to give. For, the faults 
committed in a community are imputed to the superior, and the 
faults of the congregation in this point are always serious, as 
much because there is question of a duty of religion and of an 
exterior reverence that marks the interior respect we show God, 
as because, if we be the first to fail, those preparing for ordina 
tion, and the clergy who come here, will believe themselves 
under no obl gation to do better; and those who will succeed us 
in the congregation and who w ll model themselves after us, 
will do still less, and thus everything will tend to decay; for if 
the original be defective what will the copies be ? I beg you, 
then, gentlemen and my brothers, to pay great attention to 
this, and to comport yourselves in this action in such 
a manner that interior reverence may suggest and always 
accompany the exterior. God desires to be adored inspirit and 
in truth, and al 1 good Christians should do so in imitation of 
the Son of God, who, prostrate on the earth in the Garden of 
Olive?, united to this devout posture a profound interior 


humility, out of respect for the Sovereign Majesty of His 

What he said of the genuflexion he applied to all the 
ceremonies. "They are. in truth, only the shadow, but the 
shadow of the greatest things, and this is the reason we should 
perform them with ..11 pos-ible attention, in a religions silence, 
and with g cat modesty and gravity. I low will these gentlemen 
who come here c: rry them out if we ourselves do not perform 
them well? The singing must be grave, without being hurried, 
the psalms recited with an air of devotion. Alas! if these 
ceremonies are not properly performed, how will we answer 
when God will demand an account." 

The holy ardor which he drew from Holy Communion burned 
in his words. " Do you not, my brethren," he said, do yon 
not feel a Divine iire burning within your heart every time yon 
receive the adorable body of .Jesns Christ!" He would not 
have an}- remain away easily on account of interior t:ials or 
troubles. "You have done somewhat wrong." he wrote to a 
person, in abstaining from holy communion to day on account 
of the interior trouble harassing yon. J o yon not see that it is a 
temptation, and by this means yon give a hold to the enemy of 
this most Adorable Sacrament? Do yon imagine that, by 
remaining away, you will become more fit and better disposed 
to unite yourself to our Lord? O, surely, if such wore your 
thought you have deceived yourself very much, and all this is 
but pure illusion! 

It is well known how grieved he was when he perceived among 
Christians the falling off from the frequent use of Holy Commu 
nion, and with what eagerness and earn.cstne.--s he condemned 
the book of ArnauLl and xhe Jansenist doctrines which were 
calculated to decach both fa /hful and clergy from the " frequent 
use of the Sacraments." 

He urged especially the imitation of Jesus Christ "Let us 
honor the unknown state of the Son of God. There is our 
centre, that is what lie desires of us for the present, and for 
the future, and always, until His Divine Majesty will make 
known, in a way that cannot lead astray, that he wishes some 
thing else of us. Let us honor, I say, the eimple, common 


!lifc our Lord led upon the earth, His humility, His abasement, 
and all the excellent virtues He practiced in this manner of life. 
But, let us honor this Divine Master particularly in his modera 
tion in action. No, he did not wish alwa^vs to do all that he could 
do, in order to tench us to be content whenever it is not 
expedient to do all that we may be able, but only that which 
-charity demands, and which is in conformity with the orders of 
the Divine Will. 

()!i! how I esteem that generous resolution you have taken 
to imitate the hidden life of our Lord! It is evident that this 
"thought comes from God. since it is so removed from the 
sentiments of flesh and blood. Consider it as certain. th;,t that 
is properly the disposition of the children of God. and conse 
quently, be firm in it. and resist with courage any and all 
contrary ideas that may suggest themselves. Rest assured that 
by this means, you will be in the state God wishes, : ml that, 
thus 3-011 will constantly do His holy will, which, alter nil, is 
the end to which we should tend, and to which all the saints 
have tended." 

"We have seen how he wanted his missionaries to conform 
to the example of Jesus in their sermons and in all the other 
functioris of their minist j*. " He who says missionary, says a 
man called by God to save souls; for, our object is to labor for 
their salvation in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, a .one, 
is the true Redeemer, and who has completely verified the 
lovely name of Jesus, which signifies Savior, lie came from 
Heaven to earth to exercise the office of Savior. To srve was 
the object of His life and of His death, and He still continues to 
manifest this quality of Savior by the communication 
of the merits of the blood which He shed. Whilst He lived 
upon earth all His thoughts w<-re directed to the salvation of 
men, and lie continues i:i the same sentiments, because He sees 
that such is the will of His Father. He is come, and He comes, 
to us every day for this purpose, and by His example He has 
taught us all the virtues peculiar to the office of Savior. Let 
us, UKM.I, give ourselves to Him that He may continue to exer 
cise this same quality in us and by us." 

Finally, he said in general of the rules of the mission : These 
.rules are almost all drawn from the Gospel, as each one may se?. 


and they all tend to conform our life to that which Jesus led 
upon earth. For it is said that thic Divine Savior came , and was 
sent by His Father to preach the Gospel to the poor: To 
preach the Gospel to the poor He hath sent J/<?. (Luke iv, 18.), 
as, by the grace of God, the little congregation tries to do, and it 
has great cause for humility and confusion in this, that, as far 
as I know, there is, as yet. none other which has for its partic 
ular and principal end the announcing of the Gospel to the 
poor, and to the poor the most neglected; to preach the Gospel 
to the poor He hath sent Mi. that is our end. Yes, gentlemen 
and my brothers, the poor are our portion . What a happiness 
to do the very sair c thing which, our Lord has said, He came 
from Heaven to earth to do, and by means of which we hope 
to go from earth to Heaven. To do this is to continue the work 
of the Son of God Who willingly went into the country places 
in search of the poor. Behold to what we are obliged by our 
constitution, to serve and aid the poor, upon whom we must 
look as our lords and masters. (), poor but blessed rules, 
which oblige us to go into the villages, to the exclusion of cities, 
to do as Jesus has done! Reflect, I beseech you, 0:1 the happi 
ness of those who observe them, in thus conforming their lives, 
and all their actions to those of the Son of God. (), my Lord, 
what a motive we have in this to observe well our rules rules 
that will conduct us to so holy and so desirable an end ! " 



The Blessed Virgin was, in a certain manner, the first 
instructress of St. Vincent de Paul, and she received the first 
fruits of his piety. Among the ruins of the chapel of Our Lady 
of Buglos he passed his childhood ; from his most tender age, 
when he had scarcely left his mother s arms, he loved to go to 
pray at the foot of a little statue which he himself had placed 
in the hollow of an oak. lie grew up amid the traditions of the 
pilgrimage to the holy chapel and of the miracles wrought by 
Mflrv, and it was in a chapel dedicated to her honor that he 
said his first Mass. Such was the origin of that tender 
devotion to the Blessed Virgin for which he was distinguished 
even to extreme old age. 

He made it a law to prepare himself for her festivals by 
fasting and good works, to celebrate on those days with 
solemnity, to offer the holy eacrifice in c -Impels or on altars 
dedicated to her honor, to terminate his conferences and his 
meetings with one of her anthems, to recite the rosary every 
day, and to wear it constantly at his girdle, ns the livery of a 
holv vassalage. <md to salute her at the sound of the Angelus 

k. ? 


He frequently visited her churches, and in times of danger. 

for religion and the state, he went on a pilgrimage to Chartres. 
In each mission he pronounced, at lea< one discourse in her 
honor, and Uvo hundred years before the definition of the Church 
he proclaimed the privilege of her Immaculate Conception. 


Finally, he placed under her protection all the confraternities 
of charity, and nil the works that he established for the good of 

*/ o 

the Cluirch, or of the poor. 

Founder of a congregation of evangelical laborers, he naturally 
had a great devotion to the holy Apostles, those first and 
greatest missionaries, and among all, particularly to St. Peter, 
the lirst vicar, and, in his .successors, the continnator of Jesus 
Christ, and to St. Paul, the lirst master, the lirst doctor of 
those Gentiles among whom he, too, Avishcd to spread the glad 
tidings of the Gospel. 

On entering, and before leaving, his room he sainted his guar 
dian angel. 4c did not forget St. Vincent Martyr, his patron 
saint, the traditions of whose life and doings, in Spain, he had 
collected ; nor St. Vincent Ferrer whose name he bore, though not 
under his special patronage ; nor St. Joseph whom he gave as a 
patr-Mi to his internal seminaries, and whose devotion he intro 
duced into all his houses, and whose intercession he besought 


in his important undertakings, with vows, masses, and 
pilgrimages; nor the blessed Bishop of Geneva whose canoni 
zation he, more than any other, brought :il>ont. lie honored 
the saints in heaven in their glory, and on earth in their relics. 
lie honored in them particularly the gifts of God, and to God, 
the Author of all sanctity, he always referred the worship he 
rendered them 

lie still honored the saints in his devotion to the souls in 
Purgatory, for in them ho recognized the living members of 
Jesus Christ, animated by His grace and assured of partaking, 
one day, in His glory. And this is why he prayed in their 
intention, and often offered for them the holy sacrifice of the 


He embodied all these devotions in the rules that he crave his 


community. He recommended to his brethren to pray for the 
dead, to say Mass fur the least prayed for, to fly to the succor 
of the raost miserable and the least provided for, a:ul to recite 
before ench meal the De PrnfinitH.-t for the benefactors of the 


This is what ho savs in his rule in regard to the devotion of 
the Blessed Mother : "We will strive, each and every one of 
us, to render, in the most perfect manner, with the help of 
God. the especial worship we owe to the Most Blessed Virgin 
Maiy, Mother of God ; 1st, in honoring every day, with an 
especial devotion, this most worthy Mother of Christ, itnd onr 
Mother; 2nd, in imitating her virtues, as far as in us lies, but 
particularly her humility and her purity ; 3rd, in earnestly 
exhorting others, as often as the opportunity offers and the 
power is given, to always render her great honor and 
worthy service." During the troubles of the Fronde he induced 
the ecclesiastics of his conferences and his ladies of charity to 
make several pilgrimages to shrines consecrated to Mary, in 
order to obtain, through the intercession of this Mother of 
Mercy, peace and prosperity for the kingdom. He required his 
missionaiies to preach devotion to her, and to inspire the 
people with a great confidence in her protection. When, in 
its annual procession, the Chapter of Notre Dame would bring 
the principal relics of the Cathedral to St. Lazarus, he said to 
his community : We will so dispose ourselves to receive these 
precious relics as though it were the saints themselves, whose 
relics they arc, that were to do us the honor to pa} us a visit ; 
and thus we will honor God in his saints, and we will supplicate 
Him to make us partakers in the graces with which H-e 
endowed their souls." 




That Vincent was devoured by zeal for the house of God his 
entire life testifies, because that life was employed in com 
bating evil and in extending the reign of good ; and in this 
consists true -zeal. So many works, undertaken for the 
renovation and sanctification of the clergy, so many 
confraternities, so many assemblies, so many institutions, 
so many missions given in France and in oilier noun- 
trios of Europe and in lands beyond the sens, :ill these, 
what arc they if not so many living r.nd speaking proofs of a 
zeal that burned to prevent all outrage against God, and to 
procure, in every place, His glory, and the salvation of souls? 

His zeal was enlightened, since it followed in the light 
of the Gospel and the decisions of the Church ; it was wise, 
equally free from weakness and excessive rigor, prudent and 
discreet, devoid of bitterness and caprice, always tempered 
with respect or tenderness, according to the manner of person 
with whom he dealt ; his zeal was invincible, never yielding 
to storms or persecutions, not even to death itself; disinterested 
detached at one and the same time from material interests as 
well as from those of self-love; indefatigable and persevering, 
believing never to have done enough whilst anything yet 
remained to be done, a zeal which neither old age nor infirmity 
could conquer or condemn to rest. He was already old when 
he said : "I remember, that formerly, when I returned from a 
mission, it seemed to me, on approaching Paris, that the gates 


of the city should fall upon and crush me ; and, rarely did I 
return from the mission without being filled with this thought 
The reason of that was that. I reflected within myself just as 
if some one had said to me : You go away and behold, there are 
other villages that expect from you the same succor which you 
have just given to this and to that one. Had you not gone 
there, in all likelihood, such and such persons, dying in the 
state in which you found them, would have been doomed and 
lost forever. Now, if you found such and such sins in that 
parish, have you not reason to think that like abominations 
exist in the neighboring parish where these poor people expect 
a mission ? And you depart ! You leave them as they ore ! If, 
meanwhile, they die, and die in their sins, you will, in some 
manner, be the cause of their destruction, and you ought to 
fear lest God should punish you. Tims was my mind agita 
ted." And later still, at the age of seventy-eight, he envied the 
labors of his children, lie wrote, in 1054 : " Oh how ashamed 
I feel when I see how useless I am, in this world, in comparison 
with you! .... In truth, my dear sir, I can scarcely 
contain myself; I must tell you, in all simplicity, that what 
you write gives me such new and ardent desires to be able, 
with my little infirmities, to go and finish my life under a bush 
in laboring in some town, that it seems to me I would be very 
happy did God grant me that grace/" 

"Is there anything" said the Saint, "more beautiful than 
zeal ? If the love of God is a fire, zeal is its flnme ; if love be a 
sun, zeal is its ray." 

This zeal inflamed his discourses and his letters, and 
enkindled the same fire in the hearts of his missionaries. 

He wrote: "Oh! how happy are they who worthily give 
themselves to God. to do what Jesus Christ has done, and to 
practice, in imitation of Him, the virtues that He practiced, 
poverty, humility, patience, zeal for the glory of God, and tin- 
salvation of souls. For in this way they become true disciples 
of such a Master; they live purely in II is spirit, and diffuse, 
with the odor of His life, the merit of 1 1 is actions for the 


sanctification of souls for whom: He was pleased to die. 

Are we not truly happy, my brethren, to bo able to manifest, 
in truth the vocation of Jesus Christ? For, who express 
.better the mo nner oi life that Jesus led upon earth than the 
missionaries ? I do not say it of ourselves alone: I understand 
it also oi those great apostolic laborers of different orders who- 
give missions, both within and without the kingdom. They, 
indeed, arc great missionaries whose shadows only wo arc 1 . 
Sec- how they betake themselves to India, to Japan, to Canada, 
in order to continue the work Jesus Christ began, and which 
He has not abandoned since the first moment H> was 
appointed to it by the Will of His Father! Lotus imagine that 
He says <o us interiorly : Depart, missionaries; go where I 
send you ! See the poor souls awaiting you, whose salvation 
depends upon your sermons and your -catechetical instructions. 
This,, my brethren, is what we should seriously consider; for 
God has destined us to labor at such a time, in such places, and 
in behalf of such persons. It is thus lie appointed for His- 
prophets certain places and certain persons, and did not wi?h 
them, to go els3where. But what, could we answer to God if it 
should happen that, fhrough our fault, any one of these 
poor souls died and was lost? Would not that soul 
have the right to reproach us with being the cause, in 
some .manner, of its dam nation, because we had not suc 
cored it as we should have done ? And should we not 
fear that at the hour ol death we will Le asked an account 
of it? On the contrary,, il we- faith fully correspond to the 
obligations of. our vocation, will we not have great; reason to 
hope that God will augment in us His grace, from day to day,, 
rhat He will multiply, more and more, the congregation, that 
He will draw to it men. who will possess the. dispositions that 
are proper to act in His spirit, and that He will bless all 
eur works? And, finally, all those souls who will have obtained. 
their eternal salvation by means of our ministry will render- 
testimony to Cod of our fidelity to our functions. 

"How happy will be they,, who, at the hour of death will 
see accomplished in them these beautiful words of our Lord t 
c To.preach thcypspel to the poar He liatii. sent -Me?. (Luke iv. ,18.) 


But v/oe to us if wo become relax in serving and in aiding 
the poor! For, after having been called by God, and having 
given ourselves to Him for that, purpose, lie, in some sort, 
depends upon us. Bear in mind these words of one of Ihe 
Fathers : l Jf thou hast not nourished, llton hast killed, words 
indeed, taken in reference to corporal refection, but which 
may, with as much truth and more reason, he understood of 
jspiri. ual nourishment. Judge, then, if we have not cause to 
"tremble should we fail in this point, and if, on account of age, 
under pretext of some in6rmity or indisposition, we should 
relent and fall away from our first fervor. As regards myself, 
notwithstanding my age, I do not hold myself excused from 
the obligation of laboring in the service of t .ie poor ; for what 
can prevent me? Jf I be unable to preach everyday, I will 
preach twice a week; and if I have nob sufficient strength to 
make myself heard in large churches 1 will speak in small ones ; 
and again, if I have not voice enough for that, what will prevent 
me from speaking simply and familiarly to those good people, 
as I do at present, gathering them around me as you are? I 
know aged men who at the day of Judgment can rise up 
against us, and among others, a good Jesuit Father, a man of 
holy life, who, having preached many years at Court, was seized, 
at the age of sixty, with a sickness that brought, him to the verge 
of Death, during which sickness God showed him how vain and 
how useless, for Ihe most part, were these studied and polished 
discourses of which he made use in his preaching. And this 
produced in him such great r?morse of conscience that, having 
regained his health, he asked and obtained from his superiors 
permission to go teach catechism and give familiar instruction 
to the poor in the country. lie labored for twenty years in 
this charitable employment, and persevered till death. On 
seeing himself about to cxpii-e he asked one favor, which was 
that, the wand which he used in teaching catechism might be 
buried with him, so that, he said, it might bear witness that 
he had abandoned the service of the Court to serve our Lord 
in the persons of the poor country people, 

" Some of those who seek to live a long time might fear that 
the labor of the missions Avould shorten their days and 


advance the hour of death, and for this reason they might,, 
as tar as possible, strive to avoid it as an evil that was to bo 
dreaded ; but I would ask of him who would entertain such a 
sentiment : Is it a misfortune for him who is journeying in a. 
foreign land to make progress in his journey and to near his 
own country ? Is it a misfortune for those who are on the 
sea to approach the port? Is it an evil for a faithful soul to 
go see and enjoy its God? Is it, linally, a misfortune for 
missionaries to quickly go to possess the glory which their 
Divine Master merited for them by His sufferings and death ? 
What! Do We fear that that should happen, which we cannot 
sufficiently desire, and which happens only too late? 

"But what I say to the priesc3, I say also to those who are- 
not priests, to all our brothers. No, my brothers, you must 
not think because you are not employed in preaching that 
therefore you ore exempted from the obligations which we all 
have to labor for the salvation of the ]>oor. For you can Jabor 
in your own manner, and perhaps with just as much fruit as 
the preacher himself, and certainly with less danger for 
yourselves. You arc obliged thereto, beim? members of the 
same body with us, just as all the members of the sacred body 
of Jesus Christ contributed, each in its way, to the work of 
our redemption. For if the head was crowned with thorns, 
the feet were pierced with nails whereby they were fastened 
to the cross ; and if,, after the resurrection, the sacred head was 
recompensed, so, too, Avere the feet, and they participated in 
the glory wherewith if was crowned." 

He sustained their courage in their labors and sufferings.. 
"Oh, sir, what consolation I have in thinking of you who are 
entirely God s, and of your vocation which is truly apostolic!" 
Love, then, this blessed lot that has fallen to you and which 
ought to bring down upon you an infiniry of graces, provided 
you are faithful to the first. You will, doubtless, have much 
to struggle against, for the malign spirit and corrupt nature 
will league together to oppose the gocd you wish to do ; they 
will represent to you the difficulties as greater than they 
really are, and in order to sadden and depress you they will, 
use every effort to* persuade you. that,, in your need, grace will 


fail you ; they will raise up men who Avill contradict and 
persecute you, and, perhaps, among those upon whom yon 
looked as your best friends, who should sustain and console 
you. Should such happen, my dear sir, you must look upon 
it as a good sign ; for, then, by this means, you will have 
closer relations with our Lord who, being overwhelmed with 
sorrow, saw Himself abandoned, denied, and betrayed by His 
own, and rejected, as it were, by His own Father. Oh ! how 
truly happy are they who lovingly carry their cross in 
following such a Master.! Bemember, sir, and firmly believe 
that whatever befalls you, you will never be tempted beyond 
your strength, and th-it God Himself will be your stay and 
your force, and so much the more completely as you will have 
neither refuge nor confidence in any but in Him alone.* 

lie upheld them in their missions when these were 
.apparently unfruitful, and he wrote: "Blessed bo the Father 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has so sweetly and firmly 
inspired you with the thought of the mission which you have 
undertaken for the propagation of the faith! And blessed 
be the same Lord who has come into the world, not only to 
redeem the souls you go to instruct, but also to merit for you 
the graces that, are needful to procure their salvation and your 
own! Since, then, these graces are all prepared for you, and 
since our Lord God, who bestows them, desires nothing so 
much as to errant them to those who wish to make good use of 


them, on what does it depend that you bo not filled with them, 
and that by their virtue the remains of the old man bo not 
destroyed within you, and the darkness of ignorance and of 
sin dispelled from this people ? I will hope that, on your part, 
you will spare neither labor, nor health, nor life ; you have 
given yourself to God for this purpose, and exposed yourself 
to the perils of a long voyage, and, therefore, it only remains 
for you to take a strong resolution to put your hand to the 
work in all earnestness. Yet, to begin well, and to succeed, 
you must remember to act in the spirit of our Lord, unite 
your actions with His. and give them a noble and all Divine 
end by dedicating them to His greater glory. By this means , 
vGod will shower down upon you and upon your works every 


sort of blessing. Still, it may possibly happen that you do 
not see (hem, in this, at least, to the full extent; for God 
sometimes, for very just reason?, conceals from His servants 
the Fruits of their labors, but He does not Jail to make their 
success very great. It is a long cime before a farmer sees the 
results of his work, and some-limes ho does not perceive at all the 
abundant harvest that his sowing has produced. This is what 
happened to St. Francis Xavier, who, during Tie, did not see 
the wonderful fruits his holy labors were to produce after his 
death, nor the wonderful progress of the missions which he 
began. This consideration should keep your heart free, and 
elevated to God, being confident that all will be well though 
the contrary may sec in probable." 

He turned persecution itself into a motive of zeal. Who 
knows but that God has sent this mtsfoiv.m:? to test our 
faithful DOSS? Do the dangers which they encounter defer 
merchants from travelling over the seas, or do soldiers refuse 
to go to war on acaount. of the wounds, or even of the death, to 
which they arc exposed? And should we fail to do our duty 
in succoring aud in saving so ills, on account, of the worry of 
mind and the persecutions with which we meet ?" 

When he learned thit any of his missionaries were a prey to 
the ravages of war, of pestilence, or of any other scourge, he- 
esteemed th Q m happy and took occasion to excite in those at 
homo the desire of martyrdom. He said : They suffer, by 
the grace of God, in the proper spirit, and they arc happy in 
suffering, first because they render a service to Go.l, and 
secondly, because they procure the salvation oi souls. JSTow, 
we, too, gentlemen, ought to have a like disposition, and a 
similar desire io work for God and ouriifigliboiymd be willing 
to wear ourselves out for this purpose. Yes, gentlemen, and 
my brothers, we must belong to God and to the service of our 
neighbor without reserve; we choulil be ready to go naked to- 
clothe him, to give cur lives to procure his salvation, to hold 
ourselves in readiness to do all and to suffer all for charity s^ 
sake, to be disposed to go wheresoever it may please God to- 
send us for this purpose, be it to India, or to places still more 
distant, and, in fine, to be willing to expose our lives to 


procure the spirtual good of our dear neighbor and to extend 
the empire of Jesu? Christ over soul. :. And I, myself, though 
old and \vorn, should not neglect to keep myself in this 
disposition, and be ready to go to the Indies, there to gain 
souls ro God, even fhongh I should die on the way. Fordo 
not think that God demands of us strength and healthy 
disposition of body; no, He only requires goodwill, and a true 
and sincere disposition to embrace all opportunities, to serve 
Him even at the peril cf our lives, which our hearts should 
desire to sacrifice for God, and, should He so will, suffer 
martyrdom. And this desiro is sometimes as agreeable to the 
Divine Majesty as the reality itseK ; the Church herself has 
a similar idea of this disposition, lor she honors as martyrs 
many saints who were only exiled for the I nith and died 
in exile a natural death. 0. how our brother?, who labor 
in foreign land.?, are learned in this science of suffering! 
Some arc exposed to the dangers of pestilence in attending 
those who are stricken down ; others are amid all the 
dangers cl war; others are suffering all the pangs of 
hunger ; and all in inconveniences, in labors, and in suffer 
ing?. Yet, notwithstanding all this, they remain fiiin and 
unshaken in the good work which they have undertaken. Let us 
acknowledge, and be grateful, gentlemen, Cor the grace God 
lias given t:> this poor and pitiable Congregation, to see itself 
composed of such persons imd such members so faithful and 
so constant in suffering f<>r the service and love of His Divine 
Majesty. Couraae, then, gentlemen, and my brothers ; let us 
hope that our Lord will strengthen Us in the crosses that will 
come upon us, how great soever they may be, provided He 
perceives in us a love for them and a confidence in Him. Let 
us say to sickness, when i*" presents itself, or t?> persecution, 
should it come, to interior and exterior -pains, to temptation?, 
and to duath itself, when He sends it : Welcome, ye heavenly 
:favors. graces from God, holy trials, which come from a 
paternal and all loving hand for my gaod ; 1 receive you with 
a heart full of respect, of submission, -and of confidence in Him 
"who s^nds you; I abandon myself to jou that, I may give 
:myseU to Him, " 


Let us hear the Saint further in one or t\vo ol t hose- 
discourses wherein he excited in his children a desire to die 
for Jesus, and for the salvation of souls. One of his mission 
aries, sent to Scotland, was imprisoned by Cromwell, that is r 
was on the threshold of martyrdom. The Saint said : " I do not 
know whether we should ivjoicc or be sorrowful for this. On 
the one side, God is honored in the state in which our brother 
is detained, since it is for His love ; and the Congregation 
would be blessed should God find it worthy to offer Him a 
martyr, whilst lie himself would be happy in suffering for 
God s name and in offering himself, us he has done, for 
whatever ii, may please Him to ordain in regard to his person 
or his life. What acts of virtue doi*s he not, at present, 
practice ; acts of faith, of hope, of love of God, of resignation 
and of oblation, whereby he prepares himself more and more 
to merit such u crown ? All this excites us, in God, to great 
joy und gratitude. Bui., on the other hand, it is our brother who 
sutlers; should we not suffer with him? As for me, 1 confess 
that, according to nature, I am. greatly affiicied, and my grief 
is very sensible; but, according to i\\e spirit,! judge we 
should bless God as for a very special grace. See how God 
acts! After a person has rendered Him some remarkable 
service He loads him with crosses and afflictions and oppro 
brium. 0, gentlemen, and my brothers, there must be 
something very great in crosses and in suffering which the 
understanding cannot fathom, since, ordinarily, God causes 
the service done Him to be followed by afflictions, persecu 
tions, prisons, and martyrdom, in order to elevate to a high 
degree of perfection and glory those who devote themselves 
perfectly to His service. Whosoever wishes to be a disciple of 
Jesus Christ must expect that ; but he should also hope, that in 
case the occasion offers, God will give him the strength to 
support the afflictions, and to overcome the torments." 

Two missionaries of Poland were in the midst of the ravages 
of war and pestilence. Vincent took the occasion to say to 
his Community: "Others would become discouraged in seeing 
themselves in such a condition, three or four hundred leagues 
away from [their own country. They would say : Why were- 


we scut so far away ? The others are in France in comfort. 
and we are left to die in a strange land. This is what carnal 
men would say, men who would cling to their natural feelings 
and who would not enter into the sentiments of our suffering 
Lord by pi -icing all their happiness in suffering. Oh! how 
beautiful a lesson these His servants give us, from which we 
may learn to love all the conditions in which it may please 
Divine Providence to place us. They are indifferent both to 
life and death, and are humbly resigned to whatever God will 
ordain. They manifest no sign of impatience, nor of murmur 
ing ; on the contrary, they seem disposed to suffer still more. 
Are we in this condition, gentlemen, and broMic-.o? Are we 
ready to undergo the trials that God will send, and to smother 
the movements of nature so as to live but the life of Jesus 
Christ? Are we prepared to go to Poland, to Barbary, to the 
Indies, to sacrifice to Him our gratifications and our lives? 
If such be the case, let us thank God ; but if, on the contrary, 
there be those who fear lo forego their care and comforts, 
who are so tender that they complain if the least thing be 
wanting to them, and so delicate that they want to change house 
and occupations because the air is not good, the food poor, or 
because they have not sufficient liberty to go and come as they 
would like, in a word, gentlemen, if some of us be still slaves 
of nature, addicted to the pleasures of the senses, as is the 
miserable sinner speaking to you, imd who, at the age of 
seventy, is entirely worldly, let them consider themselves 
unworthy the apostolic state to which God has called them, 
and let them be ashamed in seeing their Confreres so worthily 
fulfilling their obligations whilst they are so far devoid of 
their spirit and their courage. 

" But what have they suffered in that country? Famine? 
It is there. The plague? Both have been seized by it, and 
one a second time. War ? They are in the midst of armies, and 
have fallen into the hands of the enemy s soldiers. In u word. 
God has tried them by every sort of scourge. And we, here, 
will be as if tied to home comforts, without heart, without 
zeal! We will look on at others exposing themselves to danger 
for the service of God, and we will remain as timid as wet hens ! 


Oh, misery! Ob, meanness! See, tberc are twenty thousand 
soldiers who go to war, there to suffer every kind of pain, 
where one will lose an arm, another a leg, and m:my their 
lives, and all for a little vain-glory, lor hopes extremely 
uncertain ; and yet they have no fear, they hasten there as it 
after a treasure. But to gain Heaven, gentleman, there is 
scarcely one who stirs, and often, those, who have undertaken 
to conquer it, lead lives so soi t and sensual that they are 
unworthy not only of a priest and a Christian, but evcsi of a 
reasonable man. If there be such among us, they are but 
carcasses of missionaries. 

" But, oh, my God! be forever praised and glorified for the 
graces Thou hast given those who abandon themselves to 
Thee; be Thou ; Thyself, Thy praise for having given to this 
little Congregation these two men of grace. 

"Let us give ourselves to God, gentlemen, to go to carry 
His holy Gospel over the entire earth and into whatever pint 
He may lead us; there, let us maintain our part, and continue 
our duties until such time as IIi3 good pleasure will withdraw 
us. Let no difficulties move us; the glory of Ihe eternal 
Father and the efficacy of the word and of the passion of His 
Son are at stake. The salvation of men and our own arc so 
.great a good they merit to be obtained at any price. And 
it matters not that we die the sooner, provided we die with 
arms in our hands ; we will be only the happier, and the 
congregation will not be any the poorer ; for the blood of 
martyrs is the seed of Clir istians. For one missionary who 
.shall have given his life for charity s cake, the goodness of 
God will raise up several who will take up the good where ho 
will have left it. Let each one, then, determine within himself 
to combat the world and its maxims, to mortify His flesh and 
His passions, to submit to the orders of God and to give 
Himself entirely to the practices or His state., and in the 
.accomplishment of the Divine Will, iu whatever part of the 
"world it may please God to place him. Lot us, now, altogether 
t:iko this resolution, but let us take it in the spirit of our 
Lord, with perfect confidence that He will assist us in our 
necessities* Do you not freely wish ,to do .sq, my brothers of 


the seminary? Do you not freely wish to do sc, my brothers* 
the students? I do not ask the priests, for, without doubt, 
they arc all so disposed. Yes, my God we ail Avish to corres 
pond with the designs which Thou host upon us. This is 
what all propose in general, ir.ul each in panicular, with the 
help of Thy grace. "We will, no longer, have any affection 
cither for life or health, tor our comforts or joys, or for one 
place or another, or for anything in the world that can hinder 
Thee, Oh Good God, from showing this mercy which we all, 
each for the other, ask of Thee. 

Seeking to enlarge their zeal in proportion t > the vast 
provinces that Providence opened to them, he ad Jed; "See 
the beautiful field that God opens up for us us well in Mada 
gascar as in the British Isles and elsewhere. Let us pray that 
God will inflame onr hearts Avifch the desire to serve Him, and 
let us give ourselves to Him to do uith us as He pleases. St. 
Vincent Ferrer encouraged himself with the thought that there 
would rise priests who, by the fervor of their zeal, would 
embrace the entire earth. If we do not deserve that God, 
would give us the grace to be of those priests ler. us beg Him 
to make us, at least, their representatives and precursors. Bat 
be that as it mny, we must be convinced that we will not be- 
true Christians until we are ready to los? all, auxl give even, 
our life for the lovt- and glory of Jesus Christ, resolving, with 
the apostle, to choose torments and death its all rather than to 
be separated from the love of this Divine Savior." 

.In thus presenting to the holy ardor of his children vast 
spheres of labor, he influenced their znal for the good works 
in which, in France, they were engaged, and especially for the 
spiritual retreats which, perhaps, after his death, they might 
be tempted to abandon. Oh, gentlemen/ he said, " how we 
should properly esteem the grace that God shows usin leading 
to us so many persons in order to aid them to work out their 
salvation ! Among those who. co:ne are many soldiers, and,, 
sonic days ago, one of them, said to me : Sii j I must soon 
goto the war, and, I desJiv, beforehand to put myself in a 
good state. My conscience troubles me, and, uncertain of 
what will happen. tQ,me, I conic to dispose myself ior whatever 


God may ordain in my regard. We have now in the house a 
goodly number of persons on retreat. Oh, gentlemen, what 
immense good may not this produce if we only work faithfully 
in it! But what a misfortune if this house should tire of this 
practice. I tell you, gentlemen, and my brothers, I fear lest 
the time should come, when it no longer will have the zeal 
that up to the present has induced it to receive so many per 
sons in retreat. And then, what will happen? It should bo 
feared lest G-od take away from the congregation not only the 
grace of this work, but also lesr He deprive it oi all the others 
likewise. I was told, the day before yesterday, that the par 
liament had on that day degraded a councillor, that having 
brought him, clo .hed in his red robe, into the great chamber, 
where all the others were assembled, the president called the 
court-officers and commanded them to take from him that 
robe and his cap, since he was unworthy of these 1 , marks of 
honor, and unfit for the office that he held. The same thing 
will happen us, gentlemen, it we abuse the graces of God in 
neglecting our first functions. God will take them from us as 

o c> 

being unworthy of the position in v. .iich He has placed us, 
and as unfit for the works to which He has appointed us. 
My God. AV hat a snl/cct of grief! But, in order to be 
thoroughly convinced how great an evil this would be should 
God deprive us of the honor uf rendering Him this service, 
we should consider that many come here to make this retreat 
in order to know the will of God in the inspiration they have 
received to quit the world, and I recommend to your prayers 
one who has just finished his retreat, \vhogoes, on leaving here, 
to the Capuchins, to the habit. There arc some commu 
nities that direct to us many of those who wish to enter among 
them, and send them here to perform the exercises of the 
retreat in ord .M-, before receiving then, the better to try 
their vocation. Others come expressly, ten, twenty, fifty 
leagues distant, not only that they may here recollect them 
selves and make a good general confession, but also to deter 
mine upon a slate of life in the world, and to take the means 
to save themselves in it. We also see so many parish priests, 
and co many ecclesiastics who come here from all quarters to 
renew themselves in their calling, and to advance in spiritual 


life. They all come without troubling themselves " about 
money, knowing that they will be well received without that. 
And. on this point, a person told me lately that it was a great 
consolation for those who had no money to know that there 
was a pi-ice in Paris always ready to receive them through 
charitv whenever they would present themselves with the real 
design of making themselves right with God. 

< This house, gentlemen, formerly served as a retreat for 
lepers; they were received, and not one recovered ; and no.v 
it serves as a refuge for sinners, i\h<> are covered wi h a 
spiritual leprosy, but who. by the grnce ot God, recover ; we go 
further, and say they aie the dead who rise ogain to life. 
What a happiness th:tt the house oi St. Lazarus should be a place 
of resurrection ! St. Lazarus, after being dead three days, and 
in the tomb, rises from it alive ; and our Lord, who resusci 
tated him, do?s the same favor to many who, bavins remained 
some days here, as in the sepulchre of Lazarus, depart with 
new hie. Who would not rejoice at so great a blessing, and 
entertain sentiments of love and gratitude for the goodness of 
God in conferring so great a favor! What a shame if we 
become unworthy of such a grace! What humiliation, gentle 
men, and what regrers will we not have one day, if, by our 
fault we are degraded in this, to see ourselves in ignominy befoie 
God and man ! What a subject of affliction to a poor brother 
of the Congregation who now sees so many people of the world 
coming Ironi all parts to seclude themselves for awhile with 
us, in order to change their lives, and who, then, will see this 
great good neglected \ He wnl see that none are any longer 
received ; in a word.he wiil then no longer see what he had seen, 
for it may come to this, gentlemen, not perhaps, immedi 
ately, but in time. And what will be the cause ? If a poor mis 
sionary who has become lax is asked : Sir, will you please direct 
this person in his retreat? this request will be a torment, and 
if he do not excuse himslf he will only, as the saying is, drag 
himself along ; his desire to satisfy himself will be so great, and 
he will have such disinclination to curtail li is ordinary recreation 
for a half-hour, or thereabouts, after dinner and after supper, 
that this hour will become iinsupportable, though given to 


the salvation of a sotil, and the most holily employed of the 
entire day. Others will murmur tit tin s employment under 
pretext, that it is very burdensome and vory expensive ; and in 
this manner the Piiests of th* 1 Mission, who formerly gave Hie to 
the dead, will have no longer but rhe name and the appearance of 
what they had been ; they will be but dead bodies and not true 
missionaries ; they will be as the carcass of St. Lazarus and 
not as St. Lazarus resuscitated, still less, men who raise the 
dead lo life. This house, which now is a oilutary poo>in 
which so many come to wash themselves, will no lunger be but 
a foul, corrupt cistern, through the laxity and idleness of 
those "who inhabit it. Let us pray God, gentlemen and my 
brothers, that this evil fall not, upon us, let us have recourse 
to the Blessed \ 7 ;rgin that she may, by her in ercessioii and 
her desire for the conversion of sinner.-, him it away. Let us 
pra;, to the great St. Lazarus that he may be pleased to be 
always the protector of this house, and that he may obtain for 
it the grace of perseverance in the good which it has 

He required, however, that their zeal should be discreet.. 
"Zeai." lie wrote, - is not good unless it lie discreet. It 
seems you un .lertako too much tit the beginning. By going 
tco *ast we often spoil good works, for then we act according 
lo our inclinations which carry away with them judgment 
and reason, and make us think that the good, which is to be 
done, can be accomplished, and is proper at that lime, when 
it is not so, an ! this the evil success afterwards verifies. 
The good that God wishes is done, as it were, by itself 
without being thought of. .... Oh, how 1 would like you to 
moderate your ardor, and weigh things well in the scales of 
the sanctuary before coming to any resolution. Be passive 
rat her than active, and then God will alom do, by you, that 
winch all men together could not do without Him." 

He wished their zjal to be m?ek as well as discreet and mod 
erate. Writing to one of his missionaries at Annecy, whose 
zeal was too severe and harsh, he said : " it seems to me that the 
zeal you have for the advancement of the congregation is always 
accompanied with seme harshness, and even goes to bitterness. 


What yon tell mo, and what you term Uixness and sensuality 
in some prove this, and particularly (ho manner in which you 
tell r. Oh mv God! My dear sir, great care- must be taken in 
regard to this. It is easy to pass from a lack to an excess of 
virtue, it is easy from being j ist to becom? a reprobate, and 
nil through inconsiderate zeal They say good wine easily 
becomes vinegar, and that complete health is a sign of 
approaching sickness. It is true tl at zeal is the roul of 
virtue; but ihen. sir, it must, as St. P*ul says, be according to 
knowledge ; that is, understood of knowledge from experience. 
And because young people, generally speaking, have not this 
knowledge their zeal lends to excess, and notably those who 
are naturally harsh. Oh, my dear sir, we ought to guard 
against this, and distrust the majority of the movements and. 
im; ulses of our mind, whilst we arc young and of such a, 
tl sposition. Martha murmured against the holy idleness and 
holy sensuality of her dear sister Magdalene, and considered 
her as doing wrong because she was not all anxiety, as herself, 
to wait upon our Lord. You and I, pernapi, were we present, 
would feel the same. And yet, Hie dc/tf// of the ricltes,of 
the u-ixdom and of the knowlcdfjc of God ! How incomprehen 
sible arc Id* judgments (Rom. ii.. 33.) Sec how our Lord 
declares the idleness and sensuality of Magdalene more pleas 
ing to Him than the less discreet zeal of St. Martha! In the 
name of God, my dear sir, let us enter into these true 
sentiments and these practices, and fear, lest the evil spirit 
design, through our excess of zeal, to induce us to fail in 
respect towards our superiors, and in tiic charily we owe our 
equals. That, sir, is where our less prudent zeal terminates, 
that, the advantage which the evil spirit reaps. Therefore, 
1 beer of vou. in the name of our Lord, let us labor to lid 

O / 

ourselves of all zeal opposed to respect, esteem, mid. charity ; 
and, because, as it seems to me, the evil spirit aims at that in 
your and in my case, let us study to humble our understanding, 
to interpret favorably, in our neighbor, his mannner of 
acting and bear wish him in his LI tic infirmities." 

He recommended to them, above all, a disinterested, or 
rather, a gratuitous zeal, lie wrote: Do you not know, 


then, that ;i missionary, who labors on the strength of another s 
purse, is not less culpable than the Capuchin who receives 
money? I pray you, once lor all, never give a mission but at 
the expense of your house." 

He desired that they should be no more jealous than himself 
of the monoply ol good works, that I hey, every day, demand 
of God to send laborers into ilis vineyard, that they repeat, 
with a desire as ardent as his own, the would that all could 
prophesy of Scripture, that they experience no egotistical 
grief at the labors of others, but rather consider them tar 
superior tc their own, whilst, at the same time, they thanked 
Gcd for the fruitfulness granted, as he said, to the little func 
tions of the congregation, lie wro f e, in this sense: "It 
would be preferable to have a hundred missions established by 
others than to hinder a single one. Let u? have more confi 
dence in God. Leave (o Him the care ol guiding our little 
bark; if it be useful to Him, lie will protect it from ship 
wreck. And so lar from the number and size ot other vessels 
causing it to sink, it will, on the contrary, eail among them 
with greater security, provided it go straight to its destination 
and do not ainusa itself in crossing them . 

Again, he wrote on the occasion ol a mission given by 
Father Eudes: "Some priests 1 rom Normandy, directed by 
Father Eud^s, came to Paris to give a mission, and with a 
special blessing. The court of Q-duze- Vinyfit is very large,!) ut 
it was too small (o contain all that came to hear the sermons 
At the same time, a great number of ecclesiastics left Paris 
to go labor in other cities, and it is impossible to describe Avhat 
Avon dert ul fruits all have produced. And in all this we have 
had no share because our portion is the poor of the country. 
We have only the consolation to ?ee that our little functions 
have appeared so beautiful -and so useful that they have aroused 
the emulation ot others, who apply themselves us we, and with 
more grace from Gjd than WP, not only in the function of 
missions bur also in that of seminaries which arc becoming 
numerous in France. There is cause lo thank God for the 
zeal J. e excites in many for the advancement of His glory and 
>r the salvation of souls." 


And, with a humility still more disinterested, he said one 
dav: "Lot us, my brethren, be- as the country -man, who 
carried the luggage of St. Ignatius and his companions weary 
in the journeys When he saw them fall upon their kneel 
whenever they arrived at any stopping place, he did the s;imo; - 
when he asitf them pray, he, too, prayed ; and when these holy 
persons once asked him what he was doing, he answered: I 
pray to God that He may grant you what you demand. I am 
as a poor beast, that does not know how to pray. I pray Him 
to hear yon. I would like to bo able to pray to Him as you 
do, but I do not know how ; hence I offer Him your prayers. 
Oh, gentlemen and my brothers, we should look upon our 
selves as the luggage- bearers of these worthy laborers, as poor 
simpletons who know not how lo say anything, who are the 
refuse of others, and as poor little gleaners coming in the wake 
of these great harvesters. Let us thank Go,l that in this ! T e 
has been pleased to accept our little services. Lot us offer 
Him, together with our little handfuls, the rich harvests oi 
ethers, and be ever ready to do what is in our power for the 
service of God, and the assistance of our neighbor. If God 
gave such a beautiful light and so great a grace lo this poor 
country-man as to merit a mention in history, let us hope that 
in doing otir best, as he did, to contribute to His honor and 
service, His Divine Goodness will favorably receive our 
offering and bless our works." 

In the same spirit of disinterested zeal he m-.ide for himself ; 
an inviolable rule, and imposed it, upon his members, never to 
induce any to enter his community, eir.hcr by promises, or bj 
favors rendered, or by pious counsels. " Ah. gentlemen," ha- 
said, "be careful, when you serve and direct [hose who coma 
here to make their spiritual retreat, never to say anything thafc 
may attract them to the congregation. It belongs lo God to call 
them and to give them the Erst inspiration, ttill rcoio. even, 
should they disclose to you that they had such a thought, and 
should they show such an inclination, be careful to 
avoid deciding them either by exhortation or advice, to 
become missionaries. Simply tell them that:, as this is a very 
important thing, they should think on it, and recommend it.. 


more and more to God. Even represent to them the difficnl- 
iics with which, according to nature, they are likely to meet, 
and that they miut he prepared, should they embrace this 
itatc, to suffer much and 10 labor hard for God. But if, after 
this, they take their resolution, very well; then they may be 
brought to the superior to confer more fully in regard to tl.eir 
vocation. Let us allow God to act, gentlemen, and keep 
ourselves humbly in expectation and dependence on the orders 
Of His Providence. By His mercy, such has been the custom in 
the congregation up to the prejc-n , .aul we can say, there is 
nothing in it that God lias nut placed there, a d that we have 
ought neither men, nor goods, nor establish men s. In 
the name of God, lot us continue in this practice, and let God 
tot. L?t us follow His orders, I beg you, and not anticipate 
then:. Believe mo, ii the congregation do this God, will 
bless it." 

For a still greater reason he would not have those, who had 
t hc intention of entering another order, or those whom 
g;ip( riors had sent to try their vocation, retained at St. 
Lazarus: Should we perceive that they have an idea of 
retiring elsewhere; to serve God in some holy order or 
community, oh, my God. do not U-t us hinder them ; other 
wise we ought lo fe:.r the indignation of God ialling upon the 
Congregation fv-r coveting what He did not wish it to possess. 
And tell me, if the Congregation had not been, up to the 
present, in this mind, not to desire other subjects, no 
matter hov, cxoolltnt, than t .ioso whom it pleased God to send, 
and who previously had, for long. I he deshv to enter, would 
the Canhu?i:m Fathers and oShcr religious communities send 
u , as th jy t"b, to makj their rotro-it IK-IV, a number of young 
men who wish to join thorn? ImU<-d, they would bo very 
carclul not to do so. WhaM her? is a subject who lias the 
notion of becom ng a Carthusian ; ho is sent here to confer 
vit-h our Lord by means of a retreat, and you will hy to 
persuade him to remain here! And what is this, gpntlemon, 
if not to wisii to retain that which does not belong to us, and 
to desire a man to eirer a congregation :o which God has nob 
calbd iiim, and of \vliic!) ho has net even thought? And in 
can such a mode oi acting result, if not in bringing the 


entire congreg-ition into disgrace with God ? 0, poor little 
Congregation oi Missionaries, into how wretched. ;i plight yon 

v? r5 

would fall did you come to that! Bat, through the mzrcy of 
God, you have always been, and still are, fur removed from 
such a practice. Pray to God, gentleman, pray ro God that 
He may confirm this Congregation in the grace Ho has given 
it of not desiring to have anything out that which H.> is 
pleased it should have." 

He answered one oi the priests who wished they would 
abandon the ruinous missi m of Barlniry. If the salvation 
of one soul is of such import-nice that we oiijjht to ri-ik our 
life lo prosure it, how can we abandon so great a number 
through fear of expense ? And if no o^ier good should result 
-from these stations than, to show this accursed land the beauty 
of our holy religion, which sends these men who have 
traversed sens, who have voluntari y given up their country 
and case, and who expose themselves to a. thousand dangers in 
order to bring consolation to their afflicted brethren, 1 think 
both men and money well employed." 

Even the death of the missionaries in Madagascar, IB 
Poland, in Genoa, in the British Isles, everywhere, should 
not affright their zeal n T diminish, in aught, their resolution 
to succor these poor people. And how he inveighed against 
the cowardly! < It is impossible," ho said, "Tor a priest of 
the mission who leads a weakly, cowardly, tepid life to 
succeed in his state, or to meet with a happy end; for, what 
iniury, think you, do these timid, weak souls effect, in a 
comnmunity ? And what prejudice do the slothful not do 
bo h to themselves and to others whom they discourage ly 
their example and by their impertinent Hngnage? What good 
arc nil these employment*, they s.iy, i-11 these missions, these 
seminaries, conferences, retreats, assemblies, and vo\agcs for the 
poor? When Mr. Vincent is dead, all these will soon be 
abandoned ; Tor how keep up all these undertakings? Whore 
will you find missionaries to send to Madasascar, to the 
British Isles, to Bi.rbary, to Poland and elsewhere, and whore 
mjney to defray the CX.KMIS. S of minions so distant una so 
burdensome? To which we must answer: if the Cong ega- 


tion at its birth, nnd in its cradle, hos h:td the courage to 
embrace the?e opportunities to serve God, and if the first that 
have been sent to those countries have manifested such fervor, 
is there not every reason to hope that it will become strength 
ened nnd augm3iited in time? No. no, gentlemen, ii God 
presented to the Congregation still new occasions to serve 
Him, \ve should not fail, with the help of His grace, to 
undertake them. Those cowardly spirits are only capable of 
discouraging the others. For this renson you should beware 
of such persons; and when you hear them utter such 
language, say boldly with the Apostle: Even now there are 
b n ccmc many Anti-Christs in tj/c ivorld. ( 1 John, 2-1S ), 
anti-missionaries who oppose the designs of God. Ah, 
gentlemen, as yet we experience but the first, graces of our 
vocation flowing in upon us, which graces, however, are very 
abundant ; and we ought to Tear lost, by oar cowardice, we 
become unworthy of the many blessings which God has. up to the 
present, poured down upon the Congregation, and of the many 
holy employments His Providence lias confided to it ; we should 
tremble lest we fall into the state in which we see some 
communities, an evil that would be the greatest that could 
come upon us." 



The name of St. Vincent do Paul is a synonym for charity, 
Chanty was the first exercise of his childhood and the last of 
his old age. Charity inaugurated his priesthood. His life 
was one uniform and uninterrupted act of charily. This 
chapter, therefore, would bo as long as his life if it were to 
recount all the acts of charity performed by St. Vincent, who, 
like the Savior, went about the earth doing good. Hence, in 
order to avoid repetition, it will suSficj to refer to his life 
whic-h forms, in some manner, the first part of ihis work. 

Charity was his soul ; it exhaled from his person the good 
odor of Jesus Christ, it inspired all his words, it directed all 
his actions. 

His charity was universal, embracing all creatures capable 
of receiving its effects, extending to all the necessities of body 
and soul ; having a mouthful of bread for all hunger, a covering 
for all nakedness, an instruction for all ignorance, a consoling 
word for all sorrow, a heart and arms for the abandoned. 

He carried his charity to the lici-ob ideal of the Gospel, to 
contempt and sacrifice of Hie. How o tcn, in his journeys of- 
charity, did not the Saint descend from his carriage and throw 
himself, at the risk of his lite, between the drawn swords, and 
succeed, by his courage and his pious entreaties, in disarming 
adversaries ! We cannot forgot his voluntary captivity among 
the galley slaves, nor his substitution of himself for a doctor 
of divinity* who was troubled with a- cruel temptation against 


His charity was well regula ed. It ascended to the Sovereign 
Pontiff, the vi -ar, on earth, of Jesus Christ, in order todescf nd 
to the poorest and most lowly without neglecting any one in the 
interval. How many prayers he himslf said, and bogged of 
oth "", during the v.ic.iucics in the Holy See ! What respect, 
wh::* filial affection, he immediately professed for the elect of 
the Holy Ghost! 

Bishops had in Vincent the most religious and the most 
devoted of servants. His correspondence with them is admirable 
for i p humility and charity. He fchritated them in their 
successes and united with them in thanking Heaven. He 
moderated them in t\\Ar labors. " It is true, my Lord, that I 
desired you would use moderation, but, it is, that roar work may 
i lure, and that the excesses to which you con tin -.tally go nviy 
not so so >n djprivv your dioc?3e. and t!u> entire church, of the 
incomparable good you do. If this desire accord not with 
what zeal inspires, I will not be astonished, because the human 
sentiments, which bind me, remove me too far from the emi- 
ment state to which tho love of God has elevated you. I am, 
as yet, all sensual, and you aiv above nature: and I have no 
less cause to humbl-? myself for my defects, than to thank Gael, 
as I do, for She holy dispositions which He gives you. I very 
humbly supplifinty you, my Lord, to ask of Him for me, not, 
imbed, equal dispositions, but a little portion, or only the 
crumbs.that fill from your table/ 

For like motives he did not wish the n,unkss in case of necess 
ity, to expose themsohvs in time of contagion, and he traced 
oni lor them this beautiful line of conduct: " I know not, 
my Lord, how to express my affliction on account of the con- 
tao- oa with which your city is threatened, nor the confusion, 
on account of the contidenc3 with which you are pleased to 
honor me. I pray God. with all my heart, to turn irrcay this 
Scourge from the people of your dioc.-so, and that He will 
make me worthy to respond in His spirit to yonrcommmd. 
My littlr thought, then, my Lord, is that a prelate, in such 
cases, should keep bimseH in readiness to provide for all the 
spiritual and temporal wants of his entire diocose during the 
general distress, and not shut himself up in any one piac3, nor 


age in any occupation that will deprive him of the means 
of providing for others ; :m:l so much the more ?o, :is he is not 
the bishop of any one place alone, hut of his entire diocese, in 
the government of which he should so divide his care as not to 
confine it to any one particular locality, unless in case, 
that he cannot provide for the &ouls of tint place by means of 
parish priests or other ecclesiastics. In such, a c.ise, I think, 
that he is obliged to risk his life for their .salvation, and commit 
the rest to the care of the Ad ora bis Providence of God, It i* 
thus, my Lord, that one of the greatest prelates of this king 
dom acts. He has disposed his priests to run any risk for tlie 
salvarion of their parishioners ; and when the disease breaks 
out in any place, he hastens thitherto see if the priest. 13 firm 
in his part, to encourage him in his resolution, and to give 
suitable ad vie? and the moans to assist his p3opl-. He. with 
out; exposing him self among the s clc,- makes his visit, and then 
returns home prepared to incur the risk himself if he cannot 
supply," by others, the wants of any parish. If St. Charles 
Borromeo acted differently, it was, in ail prnbibility, through. 
som-3 special inspiration from God, or bee msc the city of 
Milan alone was infected with the contagion. 

" But, since it is difficult to do in an extensive dioceses what 
can easily be done in one less great, it seems, my Lord, that in 
order to encourage yourpriosts. it would be well for you, if agree 
able, to visit the infected districts; or, if any indisposition, or the 
danger of being taken prisoner in these dm 33 of war, prevent 
you, you should send the archdeacon ff, or in i heir default, some 
other ecclesiastics to these localities, for the same oi.ject; an 3 
when you learn that the evil has broken out in some new place 
you should, in order to encourage the pastor and to give cor 
poral assistanse to the infected, send thither some ecclesiastic, 

"The poor people, in couniry places, who are stricken with 
the contagion, are, ordinarily, abandoned and in great need of 
food. It would be an object worthy of your piety, my Lord, tc 
provide for that by sending to all such places alms which 
might be put into the hands of good pas ors who should procure 
bread, wine, and a little meat, for which the poor people 
could go to the place and at the time appointed. If the integrity 


of the pastor be doubted, it would bo necessary to give the order 
to some other pastor or vicar in the neighborhood, or to some 
good lay persons of the parish who \voulclundcrtake it. There 
is always, generally speaking, sonic one lo be found who is 
capable of this charity, especially when there is no question of 
any intercourse with the plague-stricken. I hope, my Lord, 
if h please God to bless this good work, that to Him 
will accrue great glory, to you. my Lord, consolation in life 
.*nd at the hour of death, and to your diocese great edification. 
But a necessary condition is not to shut yourself up in any one 

. lie labored to find worthy successors to those who believed it 
their duty to resign their dignity. Sometimes he prevailed on 
them to remain at their posts. You have not. my Lord, more 
>dirficulty in your episcopacy, than St. Paul found in his; and 
jet he sustained the weight until death, and not one of the 
np3stlcs laid aside his aposlleship, or its labor, or fatigue, unless 
to go receive his crow.i in Ilt-aven. It would be rashness 
ou my part, my Lord, to propose their exjmple to you, did noc 
GoA, v/iio has promoted you to their supreme dignity, invite 
you Himself to follow them, an:l dil not the liberty I take 
proceed irom the great respoct and inexpressible affection our 
Lord has given me for your sacred person." 

lie consoled them in their troubles and when they were 
tccuscd before the king. He spared them, as far ns possible, all 
pain and all humiliation, even to the detriment ol his congre 
gation. " It is preferable," he was accustomed to say on these 
occasions, that suffering and confusion should fall upon us 
rather than that we should do anything to injure this good 

During the public troubles he prevailed upon them, in the 
interest ol the king and of the pcoplf, to remain in their dio 
ceses, in order to suppress all factions, to alleviate existing 
misery and to preside over the pious exercises undertaken in 
supplication of the Divine Mercy. To those who had an idea 
of coming to Paris to com plain of the injury done by the army, 
and to seek redress, he answered that all efforts for particular 
case s would prove useless in a calamity that extended over 


almost all France ; that by remaining in their dioceses they 
could help their people more effjctirilly, and that by keeping 
them in submission and fidelity they might open a way to 
royal gratitude. 

He knew, also, how to pive them firm advice, but with what 
wise and affectionate precautions! One of them was at law 
wijth his clergy. Vincent desired nothing bet er than to assist 
him, but lie would have wished to do it byway of accommoda 
tion, and he wrote to him: "In the name of God, my Lord, 
pardon me, if I. from this place, intermeddle in these affairs, 
and not knowing that the overtures that I make will be 
acceptable to you. It may be that you will be- dissatisfied. 
But I cannot help it, since what I do is through excess of 
affection, to see you delivered irom the cares and distractions 
which this troublesome affair may occasion, so that yon may 
occupy yourself, with greater trauquility of mind, in the gov 
ernment and sane tifi cation of your diocese. For this object I 

frequently oft er to God my miserable prayers "But, 

my Lord, there is one thing that grieves mo greatly, namely 
that you have been represented to the council as a prelate who 
has a great facility in going to law ; so much so that this im 
pression has taken firm hold of the m : nds of the members. 
As for me, personally, I admire our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has 
diapproved of lawsuits, and ye f , has graciously willed to have 
had one and to lose it. I doubt not, my Lord, that if you 
enter into some, it is for the sole purpose of maintaining and 
defending His cause. And, because yon consider God alone 
and not the world, you preserve a great interior place amid all 
the contradictions from outride ; you seek solely to please His 
Divine Majesty, without troubling yourself with what men will 
say. For this I thank the Divine Goodness; for it is a grace 
found only in souls intimately united with i^od. But I must 
tell you, my Lord, that this unfortunate opinion of the council 
can injure you in the present case, and prevent you irom ob- 
taing what you desire." 

The Bishop, having refused any accommodation, the Saint 
insisted in these terms: " 1 humbly beseech you, my Lord, to 
bear with me this once, if I presume to make a proposal for 


an accommodation. I am sure you do not doubt hat i is the 
affection of my poor heart for your service that .nakes me 
desire it : still, you migh Hake it ill that one, so little iutelli<r nfc 
us I am, and knowing that you have not found my first proposi 
tion agreeable, should presume >o offer a scjonJ. Nor do I 
propose it of myself, but by the oi\ler of your agent who 
advises :i friendly termination of these disputes. lie gave 
several reasons, and, amono others, that it is but propriety 
iu so great a prelate to terminate the a Hair in a friendly way ; 
particularly, since the difference is with your clergy among 
Avhom there are spirits who are disposed to rebel, and capable 
of harassing you all your life-rime. And. judging from I lie 
temper of the council he fears for the result, of the proceed 
ings; because many of those who compose it, nor knowing 
your saintly life, nor the upright intentions whi -h induce you 
to act in this manner, might think that th^re is something con 
trary to the patience and mildness suitable to your dignity. 
I humblv beseech you, my Lard, to cxsuse my boldness and 
not to consider what I represent to you as coming from me, 
but from your agent who is on? of the wisest men of his age 
and one of the best judges in the world. I pray God to ivsrore 
peace to your church and quiet to your mind. You know the 
power you possess over me and the singular love God has given 
me for your service; if, then, yon judge me worthy of doing 
anything to serve you, His Divine G >odness knows that I will 
devote mystlt to it with all my heart. 

He overwhelmed himself in excuses \vlien he found it im 
possible to serve the bishops as they wanted. I blush with 
sham<, my Lord, as ol ien as I read the bst letter y ai have 
done me the honor to a, 1 dress to in?, and, even when I think 
of it, considering how far your creaniess has humbled itself 
before one born a poor swine-herd, and a miserable old mm 
full of sin. At, the same time, I experience great grief to have 
given yon the occasion of coining to that, when I had taken the 
liberty to represent to your (.reatness that we were unable to 
give the men desired. Your Greirness may well think that 
it ha? been through no want of respect or submission to all its 
wishes, but simply from pure inability to obi-y on this occasion. 


In the name of God, my Lord, deign to pardon our poverty. 
You well kn>\v, my Lord, that there arc none in ilie world 
more disposed to receive your commands th:in we, and in 
parti -ultir, myself, over whom God hue given you a sovereign 

When they consulted him, his humility knew no bounds: 
" Alas, my Lord, what, are you doing in communicating so 
many important affairs to a poor, ignorant man such as I am, 
abominable in the s : ght of God and man for the innumerable 
sins o! my past, life, and so miny present miseries, which make 
me unworthy of the honor your humility does me, and which, 
truly, should enforce silence on me did you not command me 
to speak! Here, then, are my miserable, thoughts which I 
propose with all the respect I owe you, and in the simplicity 
of my heart." 

Or again : " I hive read and re-read your letter, my Lord, 
nof to examine the question you propose, but to admire the 
judgment you arrive at, wherein there app?ars .something 
more than tho spirit of man; for, only the spirit of God, resid 
ing in your sacre-J person, could unite justice and charity in 
the degree you purpose in this affair. I have, then, but to 
return thanks to God, as 1 do, for the holy lights that He has 
given you, and for the confidence with which you deijjn to 
honor your useless servant. What you propose is so far above 
me that I cauno , without great confusion, think of the opin 
ions you require of me. I will nor, however, fail to obey 
you . . . . " 

Justice and mercy were the virtues with which the saint was 
ever inspired. Hence, it was only in extreme necessity that 
he would have ecclesiastical censures employed. Consulted on 
this head in regard to tome religious who were unfaithful, 
particularly in the vow of poverty, he answered: "Alas! sir, 
how you confound the son of a poor peasant, one who has herded 
shet-p and swine, who is still in ignorance and vice, in asking 
him for counsel; 1 will, however, obey, in the spirit of that poor 
ass that formerly spoke by virtue oi the obedience he owed to 
him who commanded, and on condition, that, as no considera 
tion is given to what fools say, my Lord, the bishop, as well 


as yourself, will pay no attention to what I may say, save 
in as much as it conform? with tlu> host judgments of mv 
Lord, and with your own." 

After tin s usual beginning, he opens his opinions: " In 

general. AVC must, treat unruly ro igioiis us Jesus Christ, in 
His time, trea ed sinners. A bishop and a priest, as sur-h 
obliged to be more perfect than a religions, considered purely 
us a religious, should act tor a considerable time, only bv w>d 
example, and should bar in mindrhat the Son of God folbw- 
cd no other way during thirty years. After this, it is necessary 
to speak w. th chanty and sweetness, then with earnestness 
and firmness, without, however, as yet making use of either 
interdict, or suspension, or excommunication, terrible censuros 
which the Savior never employed. I well believe, sir, that 
what I say surprises you a little; but what will you have? 
This sentiment is the effect of what I feel touching the 
truth? our Savior has taught l.y word and cxampK I have 
always remarked that what is done according to this rule 
succeeds admirably well. In following it, (he blessed bishop 
of Geneva, and, after lib example, the late Mgr. de Coinnrno-es. 
sanctified themselves, and were the cause ot the sanctification 
of so many thousands of souls. You will, doubtless tell me 
that a prelate who acts in this wny will be despised. That 
will be true, for a time, and it is even necessary it; should be 
so, in ord<r that we may honor in our persons the life of the 
Son of God in all its condi ions, as we honor Him in the con 
dition of our ministry. But it ? also true, that after having 
suffered for a time, and just as long as it, pleases our Lord, 
He vi ill give us the grace to do more good, in three years, than 
we, of ourselves, could do in thirty. Ir.doid, sir, I do not 
think success can l>e obtained otherwise. Fine regulations 
may be made, censures employed, and powers withdrawn ; but 
will r,- formation result,? Thre is scarcely a probability. 
Those means will neither extend nor preserve tlu empire of 
Jesus Christ in hearts. God formtr y armed Heaven and earth 
against man ; did He ihcreoy convert him? Alas! it was 
necessary for, Him to abase aid humble Himelf, in order to 
induce man to accept His yoke and His government. How 


can a prelate effect by his power that which God has not dono 
by His Omnipotence ? " 

The charity of the Saint for the religious orders is well- 
known. No on p , in truth, in the seventeenth century, 
rendered them more service. Minims, the order of Malta, the 
Congregations of St. Gencvi"ve, of Fremont re, of Grand- 
Mont, of SI. Anthony, of St. Bernard, of St. Benedict, all 
had reason to be thankful for his charitable intervention in 
their behalf, and they rendered, by the voice of their superiors, 
or of bishops, ample testimony to his memory at the time of 
the process of his canonization. He treated all religious with 
an affectionate respect, throwing himself at their fee , and 
remaining prostrate until he received their blcs?ing. " I have 
remarked," he used to say, "that everything succeeded with 
me on those days on which some one of these servants of 
God was pleased to bless me." 

Humble and charitable as was his zeal for religious commun- 
iyreT^it was also disinterested. He loved to make others the 
recipients of the honors and the advantages that were offered to 
XiimselX Au ecclesiastic of Anjou, wishing to install a com 
munity of priests in one of his benefices, asked him for some 
missionaries for this object. He referred him to either the 
priests of St. Sulpiciu* or of St. Nicholas du Chardonuct. They 
are," he answered him, "two holy communities which do great 
good in the Cbnrch, and which extend very much the fruits of 
their labors. They are better suited, and more capable, than 
we. to commence and perfect the good work yon have so much 
at heart." 

Into the hands of the priests of St. Sulpicius again he advised a 
lady to place the revenue of a foundation made by her ancestors 
for the formation of good ecclesiastics: "If, Madame, you 
make this disposition you can rest assured that the intentions 
of the donors in regard to the advancement of the ecclesiastical 
sta e will be faithfully executed. And if, for this purpose, 
you arc pleased to inform yourself of the good that is done at 
St. Sulpicius, you may hope for like results when this com 
munity is established in your place, since it is everywhere 
animated with the same spirit, and since it has but one preten 
sion. the glory of God." 


From this we may judge of his esteem and affection for St 
Sulpicius, and of which, at this period, he gave an heroic proof. 
The enemies of Olier had stirred up against him a vile populace. 
Informed of the tumult. St. Vincent came on the spot in all 
ha*te. resolved to defend the life of his friend at the peiil of 
his own. In effect the fury of the crowd turned itself upon 
him. Without respect for the age of the holy old man. without 
consideration for his character and virtues, without gratitude 
for the immense services of this lather of the people, they 
loaded him with reproaches, they even went so far ar. to strike 
him. Vincent uttered no complaint, but contented himself 
with repeating: " Strike St Lazarus, without fear, but spare St. 
Sulpicius." He rejoiced to thus serve as a protection for his 
friend : he was happy, he triumphed when he saw some friends 
of Olier. who, profiting by the turn in the popular fury, snatch 
him from the tumult and carry him off to the palace of the 
Luxembourg. Amid the jeers and scoffs of the multitude, Vincent 
then withdrew, thanking God for having braved persecution for 
justice and friendship. But he was not at the end of his role of 
substituting himself for others. The affair was brought before 
the council of state. There, all the blame of the sedition was 
thrown on St. Vincent. The title of Missionaries, which the 
Sulpicians, at that time, assumed, the frequent confounding of 
the Priests of the Conference with the Priests of the Mission, all 
gave occasion to many to regard Vincent as the Superior of 
Olier, and the disciples of the latter as members of Vincent s 
congregation. In consequence, the first time he went to the 
Council of Conscience he was received with an alrr.ost universal 
murmur of disapprobation. Courtiers, ministers of state, and 
even the princes, warmly censured his conduct. To turn away 
all this blame he had but to say one word : The priests of St. 
Sulpicius are entire strangers to my conduct and my congrega 
tion." With what eagerness would he have said this if they 
had attributed to him the good done by Olier and his priests! 
But, there was question of sharing in a persecution; he carefully 
avoided declining the mutual responsibility that was thrust on 
him. lie, therefore, took up the cause of Olier and his priests 
ns his own, and defended it with more warmth than he would 
have shown in the interest of his own congregation. The truth 


was soon known. Then astonishment and admiration took the 
place of blame. And when he was asked, why lie had, against 
all the rules of prudence, incurred he danger of compromising, 
for the sake of other.;, his own person and the members of his 
community, he simply answered : " I have only done my duty. 
Every Christian v. ho follows tl.e maxims of the gospel should 
do the same. The holy enterprises of a good priest appeared 
to him not as a private work, but as a public good which all 
were bound to preserve and defend. 

This is why he was faithful un il death to Mr. OlUr. He 
closed his eyes, consoled his children, presided at the election 
of his successor and labored to perpetuate his work. 

What the Saint did for religious men he did at the same time 
for religious women. The orders of the Visitation, of Magdalene 
of Pi evidence, of the Orphan Sisters, of the Sisters of St. 
Genevieve, of those of the Cross, were indebted Lo him for good 
direction, or for their reformation, for their establishment or 
for their preservation. 

And what did he not dolor the secular clergy ? The exercises 
of the ordiiuaids, the ecclesiastical conferences, the spiritual 
retreats, the erection of seminaries, so many institutions estab 
lished for their reformation and sanctification, sufficient!; 
testily. And to complete this work in favor of the clergy, how 
great a chanty, fearing neither expense nor ingratitude, did he 
exercise in receiving at St. Lazarus, the priests who ilocked to 
Paris from every province. 

In the so loving heart of Vincent de Paul, his children, even 
according to the order of the Gospel, should have a privileged 
place. From his L[fe. we learn how great was his tenderness 
for them, but especially when in persecution and sickness. This 
tenderness assumed a most touching character whenever any 
believed they had reason to complain of him. Immediately 
rising from his chair and throwing himself on the neck of him 
who avowed his aversion and discontent, he would say : "Ah, 
sir, had I not already given yon my henrt, I would row give it 
to you wholly." He used his utmost efforts to retain those who 
were tempted to leave the congregation. If, in spite of him. 
any left he still pursued them with his charity. In 1655, one 


of his young seminarists, contemning his advice, departed and 
enrolled himself i 11 . a. company of Swiss guards which, too, he 
soon deserted. But this second desertion had like to cost him 
far more than the first. For, being captured and put in prison, 
he was condemned to death. In this extremity he remembered 
the father whom he had abandoned, and he had recourse to him. 
Vincent, full of pardon and charity for that prodigal son, 
interceded in his favor, and obtained his life. 

To those whom he could not induce to remain, he gave the 
expenses of their journey, and recommended them to the 
superiors of his houses in the province. I trust" he would 
write that God will always give the congregation grace to 
exercise its kindness towards all the world, and especially 
towards those Avho may separate themselves from it ; not only 
that they may have no cause of complaining, but also that, by 
helping burning coals upon their head, they may recognize, 
even to the end, the charity of their good mother." 

He listened to the complaints of the least of his brothers : 
Yon have done well to inform me of it; I will attend to it. 
Always come to me, my brother, when you have any trouble, 
for you know how I love you." He reassured them when 
fearful of importuning him : "No, my brother, do not fear in 
any manner, that yon will annoy, or importune me by your 
demands, and know now, once for all, that a person whom God 
lias appointed to aid others, is no more overburdened with the 
assistance and instruction that is required of him, than would 
be a father with his child." 

His charity followed his children in their travels, and every 
where prepared for them a like kindness. "I recommend such 
a one to your care," he always wrote to the Superiors of his 
houses, "I trust he will have in you, when he 
sees the patience, the charity which Our Lord has given 3-011 
for those whom He commits to your direction." He responded 
to all their demands and provided for all their wants when 
0:1 the mission. One of them wrote to him once to request, 
among ether things, a skull cap. As he found none at hand, he 
took off his own and handed it to the brother. "But Sir," 
said the brother, "we can buy one in town and send it on 

CHARITY. 1 1 7 

some other occasion." - No, my brother, we must not make 
him wait for it, he may need it right awny. Send him ours, 
I prav you, along with the other things he asked." 

His chanty included the entire family of each of his confreres. 
AVe will pray to Go. I for this afflicted family," was he 
accustomed to sa} , " I request the priests, who have no special 
obligation, to say mass, and our brothers to recehe holy com 
munion for its intention; and I, first of all. will offer up to 
God for it, with a good heart, the mass I am about to cole 
brate. " 

With the lever of a like affection he moved all hearts and 
stimulated them to the most difficult sacrifices. The soldiers of 
Tmenne exposed themselves to the fire of the enemy and braved 
all dangers at the least of his orders, because they saw in him, 
besides the renowned captain, the most attentive and compass 
ionate of fathers. In like manner, the sons of Vincent, on 
a word from their superior, whose charity was to them as the 
image of that God, who was to be their recompense, were ready 
to fly to the most barbarous nations, there to brave pestilence 
the sword, death. And so much the more so as his charity still 
sustained them in the midst of their laborious work in distant 
mission*. On their departure he fell at their knees and kissed 
the feet of the evangelists of peace; he. afterwards, watched over 
their wants, and sent them, at the extremity of the earth, these 
words of tenderness : " After the true and extraordinary marks 
which God has placed in you. of your vocation for the salvation 
of that people, I embrace you in spirit; with all the feeling of 
joy and tenderness nvr ited by that soul which God has chosen, 
among so many others upon the earth, to lead to Heaven so 
great a number of souls, as yours, which has left all all for this 
purpose. And, truly, who would not love this dear soul, so 
detached from creatures, from its own interests, and even from 
its own body Avhich it animates solely for the purpose of serv 
ing the designs of God who is its end ;;nd sole ambition? 
But yet, who would not take care to husband the strength of 
that body which has certainly given sight to the blind, and life 
to the dead? This is what induces me, Sir, to beg you to 
regard it as an instrument of God for the salvation of many, 
and. in this view, to preserve it." 


But what will we say of his charit/ to the poor ? Here, far 
more than in the presence of the glory of the Prince de Conde, 
one feel* himself equally embarrassed, both by the greatness of 
the subject and by the uselcssness of the attempt. For, to 
continue with Bossuet: "What part of the habitable world has 
not heard of the charitable institutions of Vincent and the- 
marvels of his charitable life? The Sisters of Charity, the 
Assemblies of Ladies, and of Lords, the work of (lie Galley 
Slaves, and of Barbary, the hospitals for foundlings of the 
Name of Jesus, of the Holy Queen, and the general hospital 
is not the mere list of these institutions, founded by Vincent, 
sufficient to impress the mind with an idea of the immense 
charity of the Saint for the miserable? I will not mention the 
Congregation of the Mission, established for the sole purpose 
of aiding the poor in their salvation, and in reference to which. 
Vincent often repeated: " AVe arc the ministers of the poor; 
God h is chosen us for them. That is our principal object; all else- 
is but accessory. 

Vincent was, in truth, wrapped up in the poor ; they were 
the object of all his thoughts and of all his affections, the- 
subject of his grief and of his sorrow. "I am in trouble about 
thecongrepation," he sometiires s-iid. -but, to tell the truth, 
it does not effect me as do the poor. We have but to go and 
ask what we want from our other houses, if they have it. or 
serve as curates in parishes ; but the poor, what will they do. 
or where can they go ? I confess that that is my burden and my 
grief. I am told that, in the country, the poor people say that 
while the fruit lasts they can live, but afte;- that they have 
nothing left but to dig their graves and bury themselves alive ! 
0, my God, what extreme misery ! And the means to remedy it?" 

The history of his life, Allows how he did so. There, too, will 
be found how he saved Lorraine. Picardy, Champagne, 
many other provinces, and how he sna:ched from starvation 
and death the environs and faubourgs of Paris ; how his action 
in this was direct and personal, how immense ^ere his alms, and 
how he was proclaimed by the voice of public gratitude the- 
"eneral almoner of France, the savior and father of his country. 


In this present work, we have but to gather a few particular 
facts, some anecdotes, a. few. ears gleaned after the harvest. 


And first, some facts relative to the famous carriage which the 
charity of the Saint soon turned into a public cov.vcyance. If 
he met any poor person in the streets of I aris or in the country 
he immediately made him or her enter the carriage. He did 
this one day in the case of a poor woman whom he. some leagues 
from Paris--, met doubly tired, both by the walk and from the 
weight of the child she carried in her arms Another time he 


a"-ain met a woman, and the disgusting ulcers which covered 
her were a new title to admission to his carriage. Not content 
with receiving her into his carriage, he wished to convey her to 
her destination. It was then, only, that he directed his carriage 
and that charity disarmed humility. It is true, that when he 
did not have his carriage, or when important business called 
him in another direction, he endeavored to procure a chair to 
transport the poor and the sick either to their homes, or to the 
ILtel Dcu. 

But he loved far better to conduct them himself. One day. 
in the faubourg St. Denis he saw a poor woman prostrate on 
the ground Priests, levites, and people of the world all passed 
by without stopping, as in the caso of the wounded man. in the 
Gcspel ; or answered her moans with barren pity only. But. 
see! The good Samaritan comes. Vincent leaves his carriage, 
approaches, and, seeing that it was impossible for the poor 
woman to walk, he caused her to be put into his carriage, and, 
though his business called him to a far different and far distant 
section, he gave orders to drive to the Hotel Dieu. After a few 
minutes diiving, the poor woman became sick and it was necessary 
to take her from the carriage, the motion of which she could not 
bear. Vincent ordered some wine to be brought, to strengthen 
her, and when she had somewhat recovered he paid the porters, 
and, with their burden, he pave them a letter of recommenda 
tion to the sister superior of the H id Dieu. 

Similar traits are innumerable in the life of this holy priest. 
Thus again, stopped one day in the streets of Paris, by the 
distressing cries of a little child, he immediately got out of his 
carriage, questioned the child and it, having shown a sore it 
had on its hand, he conducted it to a surgeon, had the sore 
dressed in his presence, paid the one his charge, consoled and 


returned the other to its parents. Such was the daily use of 
the famous carriage. 

Here are otlicr instances of his charity. A journeyman tailor,. 
who had worked at St. Lazarus, wrote him from his home to 
plea>e send him. an hundred needles from Paris. The Saint, at 
that time, pressed with the most serious occupations both r.t 
court and in the city, found the request quite natund and. 
hastened to} . 

He visited the prisons of the Chatelet and the Concicrgerie 
to instruct and assist the prisoners. By procuring dowries for 
girls in danger, he secured them* honorable marriage, or. he- 
obtained for them an entrance into- a religious house. He 
settled the disputes of the entire district of St. Lazarus, restored. 
peace among families, and even among I he soldiers. V~hen 
fire, sickness, or any other misfortune, ruined a family, he 
went to console it, he furnished what was immediately wanted,. 
and finished by re-establishing it in its urcvious condition, 

/ O * 

procuring furniture, and m.itcr al. :md implements for work. 
A poor carman lost his horses. He begged Vincent to help- 
him to repair the loss, and immediately he leceived one hundred 1 
livres. Another died, leaving his seven, sons stricken down 
with sickness. Having seen to their i ceo very., the Saint gave 
them a horse and a cart, and thus relieved their misery. A 
poor laborer died, leaving, to> his wife and two little child: en, a, 
hopeless lawsuit and want for nn inheritance; Vincent supported 
the wife , and took the boys and maintained them till they were 
able to gain their own livelihood. 

And how many poor, who will never be known, were indebted 
for their very existence to Vincent ? Many regularly received a 
monthly sum. During his last illness, one of those, failing to 
receive his allowance, came to St. Lazarus, to demand, as il due 
him. the two crowns he had been receiving for the last seven 
teen years. 

For m.-uiy years he supported a. poor blind man. and, before 
dying. Vincent recommended the continuance of that charity. 

A woman, having told him of her distress, received a half 
erown. This is indeed very little- in my extreme want she 
sent him word, and instantly she obtained another half-crown.. 


A farmer, ruined by three consecutive inundations, was 
deprived of his farm by the landlord, who likewise seized his 
farm implements and hi? horses. Vincent gave him a piece of 
land belonging to St. Lazarus, already in seed, and furnished 
him with what was necessary to cultivate it. And as he could 
no longer keep his son at school, Vincent sent the boy to his 
house at Richelieu, obtained for him an ecclesiastical title 
and succeeded in making him a good priest. 

An old soldier, the number of whose wounds procured him 
the nickname. Riddled, came one day to St. Lazarus, and 
called for the superior: Sir/ said he without any other 
introduction, in the rough freedom of his profession. " I have 
hcr.rd it said that you are a charitable man. Would you be 
kind enough to receive me into your house for some time?" 
"Willingly, my friend," replied Vincent and he ordered a 
room to be given him. Two days after, the soldier took sick. 
He was immediately placed in a warm, comfortable room, a 
"brother was expressly appointed to wait on him, medicine and 
proper nourishment were supplied, and he was retained until 
he hat; fully recovered. 

On one occasion, in coming home from the city, Vincent found 
at the gate of St. Lazarus some poor women, who asked him 
for some alms. He promised! But, having scarcely entered , 
serious and pressing duties occupied bis whole attention and 
drove away all thoughts of the poor women. Some time after, 
the porter came and reminded him. He quickly went and 
"brought the alms himself, nt the same time throwing himself on 
his knees to ask pardon for having forgotten them. 

Nothing had the power to discourage him; not even the insults 
of the poor. He did not wish vengeance for his brethren any 
Tftore than he did for himself, on account of the ill treatment 
with which their charity so often met. Two of his < lerics, sent 
to visit the sick in the domain of St. Lazarus, were met by 
soldiers, :md deprived of their cloaks. Two of the thieves were 
taken by the people of the neighborhood a d brought to the 
prison of the Bailiwick. To punish them, Vincent had but to 
allow his officers of justice to act. But, far from this, he caused 
them to be visited and supplied with food, persuaded them, for 


their punishment, to make a good confession, and. on their 
promise to rob no more, ordered them to be set at liberty. 

O:i another occasion it was the death of one his brothers 
he had to arrange in a Christian rnanrcr. Poor women, 


admitted to Hcaii in the great enclosure of St. Lazarus 

~ C3 

were, by a brother, surprised in the act of stealing from the 
harvest. One of them took up a stone, and struck the brother 
dead. Vincent, immediately informed, sees this blood crying 
fo- veno-eancc. But the thought of the blood of Jesus Christ 

O O 

recalls mercy. lie sent for the husband and advised him to 
quickly take his wife away, an 1, as they were both poor, he 
supplied then: with money for the journey. 

For greater reason did he pardon them, when they shot the 
pigeons of St. Lazarus. He used simply to say to the poachers: 
" Why do you kill the parent birds? If you want pigeons, why 
do you not come and ask me for the youn -, ones? " 

In general, he would never consent to punish any thefts com 
mitted on the property of St. Lazarus. > They are poor people, 
and I pity them." It was thus he excused them, and often he 
invited them to his table, and dismissed them with some little 

His charity, then, in accordance with the counsel of the 
Gospel, extended even to the love of his enemies. Sometimes, 
wretches, aroused by political passion, or by suffering, outraged 
and maltreated him, either because they took him for a royalist, 
or because they looked upon him as the author of the very ev ls 
he worked so liard to prevent and alleviate Thus, one day, when 
returning from St. Germain where he had been called by order 
of the queen, the gatc-kcepers,as he entered Paris, fell upon him, 
loaded him with insult, tore his clothes, and even struck him. 
The most brutal of them forced him off his horse ami threatened 
him with death. The magistrates, slio-tly after informed of 
the affair, desired to bring the perpetrator-* of so dastardly an 
act to justice. But Vincent went himself to solicit the judges 
in favor of the guilty; moreover, to place an obstacle in the way 
of investigation, and prevent it from reaching any termination, 
he refused to tell the hour in which it happened, and so they 
could not know who were on dutv at the time. Yet, to avoid 


the repetition of like outrages, he culled for a passport to leave 
and enter Paris at will, which the Duke of Orleans immediately 

But in Paris itself he often had to suffer from a mutinous pop 
ulace. From among many occasions we select this. Once, when 
but a few steps from St. Lazarus, an infuriated man, pretending 
that the Saint, in passing, had brushed against him gave him a 
slap in the face, and cal ecl out to the indignant crowd gather 
ing around: " Pie is the author of all our evils, of the subsidies 
:and the taxes with which the people are burdened Instead of 
punishing his insolence with prison, by virtue of the different 
judicial powers that St. Lazarus at that Lime enjoyed, Vincent, fol 
lowing the maxim of the Gospel, threw himself at the knees of 
the man, presented the other cheek, and said: -I am not, my 
friend, the author of the subsidies-, the imposition of wlrch. 
never was of my province; but I am a great sinner, and I ask 
pardon of God rnd of you for the cause I may have given you 
to treat me in ihi.s way." At this sight, and by these words, the 
fury of the man was disarmed. 

On the following morning he came to St. Lazarus and in his 
turn made the mo^t sincere apologies to the humble priest. 
Vincent welcomed him as a friend, kept him in. the house six 
or seven days, and, inducing him to make the spiritual exercises, 
gained him to God. 

His fjreat means for revenging himself on all those who had 
Insulted him was the spiritual retreat. A man requested him 
to speak in his favor to the chief justice, de Lamoignon. Some 
days after, he met the Saint in the street, and, imagining him 
self badly served, poured out a torrent of abuse which even the 
humility of the saint, prostrate at IKS feet, asking pardon, could 
not arrest, P>ut the next day he gained his snit and learned 
that it was owing to the, intervention of Vincent. He there 
upon hastened to St. Lazarus t" apologize, and the Saint, in 
answer, proposed the exercises of retreat. 

His charity towards his enemies is fully shown in the history 
of the Orsigny law suit, and in the details of his conduct while 
a member of the Coiuici! of Conscience. An instance at ran 
dom. The Queen had just exiled a loul in punishment for MJ 


insult offered lo Vincent. " Xo. Madame, it must not be," 
said the holy priest, "I will not put my loot in this council 
until this good noble be restored to your favor." 

He showed himself full of charity and forbearance for his 
tenants, and the debtors of his community. He was far from 
adding. 1 y seizures and costs, to the los es caused by mortality 
among the cattle, or arising from unpropitious seasons. Not 
only did he in such cases remit their debts and their rents, but 
he advanced assistance to help them in reestablishing their 
affairs. And he prescribed this mode of action to his priests: 
" It would be a sad thing, he wrote to one of them. " were you 
obliged to seize the gntnar^y of the farmer of Chausee; I or the 
poor people are sorely enough pressed without adding to their 
distress." And to mother: If \ ou could pay your domestic 
for the four months he was sick, and defray, al^o, his e- penses 
for doctor and for medicines, I think you would do well, since 
he is a poor man." 

Again, and what is perhaps far more difficult, the Saint 
showed himself charitable towards the ungrateful. He had 
already aided the Irish priests thrown into France by the revo 
lutions in their own country. And more, he had commissioned 
one of his Missionaries to assemble them on certain days of the 
week for the purpose of instructing them in what pert lined to 
their sacred calling, and afterwards to obtain for them some 
ecclesiastical employment. By assembling them together in 
this manner we might be able, lie said, to find a way to assist 
them; for their good will to render themselves more usefi.l 
and exemplary will thus become evident I beg you, fir, to 
work for that object." "Sir." objected the missionary, "you 
know that by your orders these meetings have already been 
begun and have been continued for some time. But, as the exiles 
are difficult to manage, and as divided among themselves as the 
provinces of their county, this good work has been discontinued. 
They became distrustful and jealous of each other, and, though 
you have shown them many kindnesses and obtained for them 
man} favors, they have lost confidence in you yourself, sir; 
they have complained of 3-011, and have been so inconsiderate as 
to tell you to your face to have notlrng more to do with them 
or their affairs, and they have written to Rome in the same sense. 


Now, sir, it seems that this ingratitude merits no further kindnes 
ses on your part. "Oh, sir, what do you say?" answered Vin 
cent, "that is just why we should be kind to them. And, like 
Jesus Christ, finding in ingratitude even a new motive for charity 
he continued to assist these poor priests with all his power. 

Even when faith and the religious honor of his house had to 
suffer from ingratitude, his charity did not weaken. A young 
German Lutheran, who had abjured his Protestantism, in Paris, 
was directed to him by a superioress of a community, who up 
to that time had provided for the false neophyte. 

The nun recommended the young man as a subject of bright 
promise and as one who, as a member of the congregation, 
might render great service to the Church. The saint received 
him. gave him a room, and, according to custom, put him o 
retreat. The new novice, after having studied the different 
parts of the house 1 etter than his vocation, stealthily entered 
ore of the rooms and appropriated a soutane, a long cloak and 
some small objects, lie, then, without being seen, made off 
through the door of the church. Thence, in the garb of a mis 
sionary, lie went to the Protestant pastor at Charenton, and 
aftei wards to the Faubourg. St. Germain, to the Protestant 
minister, Drelincourt. To whom he said: " 1 belong to the 
Congregation of the Mission, but God having opened my eyes, 
I come to you to make profession of the reformed religion." 
Drelincourt. to whom every cast-away, even the most dubious, 
but particularly one from the ecclesiastical ranks, was a god 
send, received this one and marched him in Iriumph from 
street to street, and from house to house of those of his 
sect an operation which admirably suited both the one and 
the other. The one received forced congratulations, the other 
forced alms. During one of these promenades they were 
met by the Lord Des Isles, a man very zealous for the 
faith, and of some success in controversy. At the sight 
of the cKrical costuir.e of the coinpai-ion of Drelincourt, 
Des Isles divined all. To make himself certain he followed 
them to the first house, entered with tl em. a. id letting Dre 
lincourt ascend, he asked the German what was his object 
with the minister. Thinking that he was speaking to a 
Huguenot, the j oung man again said he had left St. Lazarus and 


bad the intention of embracing Calvinism. Without waiting 
another moment, or any further answer, DCS Isles went to find cle 
Bretonvillicrs, pastor of St. Sulpicius, and had this young 
man. who had found means to dishonor, at one and the same 
time, the Church and the Missio , arrested and conducted to 
the prison Chatelet. Immediately informed of all by DCS Isle?. 
Vincent was far less sensible to the outrage done his house 
than to that done to God. Importuned 1 y his friends to punish, 
in prosecuting the guilty, both the theft and the scandal, he 
thanked them for their advice, and promised to consider it. He 
then sent to the judges to ask not justice, but mercy, lie. 
himself, went to the king s advocate and the public prosecutor, 
and declared, in the name of his community, that he demanded 
nothing cither for the robbery or for the outrage lie added: 
< As for myself, I humbly supplicate you to free the yo -ng man. 
To show mercy is the attribute of God. Hi- Divine Majesty 
will receive it as vciy acceptible if you send away, without 
punishment, a poor stranger, guilty, at most, of youthful 
levity." Though the result of th ; s sir.gula f request be unknown, 
yet, it is to be presumed thr.t the magistrates did not lefnse. 
It was a precedent that would not embarrass through frequent 


Let us now listen to the Saint speaking to us. from the 
abundance of his heart, of that charity with which he was filled, 
of that charity which emanated from him as the figure from its 
substance, and transformed into itself all who heard him. 
"For," he said, -each thing produces, as it were, a species and 
ima^e of itself, as we sec in the case of the mirror which repre- 


sents objects as they are. Ugly features are there represented as 
ugly, and beautiful, as beautiful. In the sairc way, good and 
bad qualities diffuse themselves externally. Charily, especially, 
which is of itself communicative, produces charity. A heart 
really inflamed and animated by this virtue causes its ardor to 
be felt, and everything in a charitable man breathes and 
preaches charity." 

He first 0-avc the general doctrine of Charity. The precept 


of charily sums up the whole law. especially when it includes 
our neighbor as Avell as God. There is not a congregation 
more obliged to the practice of perfect charity than is ours. 
For our vocation is to go, not to one parish alone, nor to one 
singlediocese butallover the earth in order to inflame the hearts 
of men, and to do as did the Son of God, who Himself 
sairl that Me was come to bring fire upon the earth in order to 
enkindle his love in the hearts of men. It is, therefore, true 
that wo are sent, not only to love God, but, moreover, to make 
others love Him. It is not enough for us to love God if our 
neighbor, too, do not love Him ; and \ve cannot love our 
neighbor as ourselves if we do not pro jure for him the good 
we arc bound to wish for ourselves, namely, the Divine love 
which unites us to Him who is our Sovereign Lord. We should 
love our neighbor as being the image of God and the object of 
His love, and so labor that men may in turn love their most 
Amiable Creator, and mutually love one another, for the love 
of God, who has so loved them as to give, ft r their sake, His 
own Son to death. But. gentlemen, we must look upon this 
Divine Saviour as the perfect mocUl of the charity that we owe 
our neighbor. Oh, my Jesus, tell us if it please Thee, what 
induced Thee to descevd from Heaven to share in the maledic 
tion of earth ? What excess of love forced Thee to lower 
Thyself to our level, and to suffer the infamous death of the 
cross? What excess of charity has made Thee expose Thyself 
to all our miseries, take upon Thyself the form of a sinner, lead a 
life of suffering, and under go so shameful a death? Where else can 
charity so admirable, so excessive be found? None but the Son 
of God is capable of it, nnd none but Him has had such a love for 
His creatures as to leave His throne of glory to come and 
assume a body subject to the infirmities and miseries of this 
life, and carry out the stra:rge and wonderful measures he adopted 
to cstuMish, between us and among us, both by word and 
example, love for God and charity towards our neighbor. 1 es. 
it is this love that crucified Him, and that produced the- 
marvellous work of our redemption. 

"O. gentlemen, had we but a spark of the sacred fire that 
consumed the heart of Jesus Christ, would we remain with our 
arms crossed, and abandon those whom, we could, assist ?. No,. 


indeed, for true charity knows not idleness, nor does it perm, 
us to look upon our friends and brethren in wani without mani 
festing our solicitude ; and, ordinarily, exterior action testifies 
to interior fee ing. Those who have true charity within show 
it externally. It is the property of fire to give heat and light, 
and it is characteristic of love to be communicative. AVe should 
love God with all our strength and in the sweat of our blow. 
We ought to serve our neighbor with our wealth and our life. 
O, how happy to become poor in charity to others ! But. we 
should not fear such a result, unless we doubt the goodness of 
our Lord, and the truth of His AVord. But if, notwithstanding, 
God permitted us to be reduced to the necessity of serving as 
curates in villages, in order to obtain a s ;bsistance, or even to 
go and beg our bread, or overcome and penetrated by cold to 
seek a resting-place in some corner of a hedge, and, it , in iliat 
condition, some one would ask us : Poor Priest of the 
Mission what has reduced you to such an extremity, what 
happiness, gentlemen would ours be in being able to answer : 
Charity it is that has done this! O, how this poor priest 
would be esteemed by God and by His angels! 

"And, now. what are the acts of charity ? The first act is to 
do unto evciyone as we rationally wish should be done uir.o us. 
This first act is, of itself, so beautiful and so luminous that it 
carries light into the understanding; this light produces esteem, 
esteem moves the will to love, and convinces the person who 
loves of the duties of charity which h: owes his neighbor. It 
is the property of fire to give light : nd heat, and it is the 
property of love to illumine and give rise to sentiments of 
respect and affection for the person loved. Yes, if we possess 
the divine virtue which is a participation in the Sun of Justice, 
it will dissipate the vapors of disdnin and aversion, and will 
show us what is good and beautiful in our neighbor that we 
may esteem and cherish him. 

Second. Act: Not to contradict. I do not gain my brother 
by contradicting hiiv. but by taking kindly, in our Lord, what 
He advances. lie may be right, and I. possibly, may be 
wrong ; he docs his \ art in contributing to an honest and 
becoming conversation, and I turn it into a dispute ; what he 


says may bo taken in a souse I would approve did i but know 
it. Far from us be all contradiction that divides hearts! Lot 
us avoid it as a fever that dries up, as a pestilence that 
desolate:?, as a demon that carries ruin into the most holy 
conscience?. Let us banish this evil spirit by our prayers. 
Far from combating, let us enter into the sentiments ol 
others; they say simply what they think, let us take in like 
simplicity what they say. If some should give way to detrac 
tion and raillery, oh, my Savior, do not permit it; but should 
it happen, we should not reprehend them publicly, for that is 
neither according to our rules, nor to theology, nor to the 
maxims of the Gospel; correct them secretly and in private. I was 
just thinking whether our Lord had ever contradicted any o! His 
disciples in the presence of others, and only two instances came 
to my mind. One was when lie contradicted St. Peter, saying 
to him: 0, Satan! and the other when, wishing to repre 
hend him for his presumption, lie said to him : This night 
thou wilt deny me thrice. Be that as it may, we see that 
our Lord was very reserved in contradicting ; why, then, should 
we not be the same ? Ho had the right to publicly reprimand 
His disciples, for lie was the way and the truth ; but we who 
.are subje3t to err, should be extremely guarded in opposing 
any one, lest we bring shame upon cur brother, excite a 
.struggle, or go against truth. 

Third Act: "Mutual support. Who is perfect ? Xo man 
on earth, .lint who is not called imperfect? Since, then, all 
men have their faults, all have need of support. He who 
studies himself well will discover in himself a^ number of 
weaknesses and failings and will even recognize that he cannot 
prevent them, nor consequently help being a trial to others. 
Let us examine ourselves in relation to our bodily condition 
and mental dispositions: at times we experience an extreme 
distaste for the most holy things ; often, we discover within 
ourselves a strange opposition to some one who is no more 
imperfect than ourselves, and yet, everything in connection 
with him displeases us. Let this person merely look, or listen, 
let him speak or act, everything, no matter what, by reason 
,01 our evil disposition, will appear blameworthy in him. 


Another may use pure Language, may speak according to the 
rules of grammar, and we, through an involuntary antipathy, 
will consider his thoughts obscure. Ins words pointless. Bat, 
should we become conscious of this on our part, we would feel 
very much pleased, should lie manifest no displeasure but 
rather excuse us. Why, then, should not we, too, excuse him 
when he is gruff with us, or when he criticises our actions? 
For the antipathy may be reciprocal. We are, at times, gay 
and cheerful, and, at other times, we arc sad and depressed ; 
yesterday, we were thought too joyful, to-day, we are too 
melancholic. .Since, then, we wish our neighbor to bear with 
us in the excesses of our extravagant humors, is it not just 
that we do the same by him in similar cases? Let us put 
ourselves to the question, let each examine carefully all his 
miseries, all the infirmities of his body, the disorders of his 
passions, his proneness to evil, his infidelity and ingratitude 
towards God, and his injustices towards his neighbor, and. he 
will discover in himself more malice, and greater cause for 
confusion than in any other person in the world; and then, let 
him say sincerely: I am the greatest sinner and the most 
insupportable of men. Yes, indeed, if we studied ourselves 
properly we would find that we are a great burden to those 
with whom we live ; and whoever has succeeded in thoroughly 
knowing his own wretchedness, ( and this is an effect of the 
grace of God), may ivsfc assured that he is come to the 
necessary point to perceive his obligation to bear with others. 
He will see no faults in them, or if he do, they will appear very 
trivial in comparison with his own ; and thus, in the midst of 
his own weaknesses, he will bear with his neighbor, particu 
larly when he considers the need he has of being borne with 
by Almighty God. 0, admirable forbearance of our Lord J 
You see that beam sustaining all the weight of the ceiling 
which, without it, would immediately fall, lie, in like manner, 
has sustained us in our languors, in oiu 1 blindnesses, and in 
our fulls. We were all, at one time, as if crushed beneath the 
weight of our iniquity and our miseries both of body and 
soul, and this gracious and gentle Saviour took them upon 
Himself in order to suffer the pain and the opprobrium. If 

C1IAKITY. lal 

we give our attention to tliis we will mulily see how much 
we deserve to be punished :uul despised, especially we who 
i:re guilty, and, above all other;, I, myself. 

Fourth Act. "To sympathize with the sufferings of our 
neighbor, and to weep with him. Love unites hearts, and makes 
one heart feel whatever the other feels. They compassionate 
each other. Such hearts arc not found in those who 
experience no grief for the afflicted, nor for the sufferings of 
the poor. Ah, how great was the tenderness of the Son of 
God! I cannot help always contemplating that prototype of 
charity. lie is called to see Lazarus, and He goes ; Magdalene 
rises and weeping goes to meet Him, the Jews follow Him, and 
likewise weep, every one begins to weep: what docs our Lord 
do? lie weeps with them. It is this loving tenderness that 
brought him down from Heaven. He saw man deprived of 
his glory, and He was touched at that misfortune. We 
should, ourselves, be moved to pity at the sight of our afflicted 
neighbor, and share in his suffering. 0, Sr. Paul, how 
sensitive were you in this respect! my Savior, Thou "Who 
hast filled this apostle with Thy spirit and Thy sentiments, 
make us say with him: Who is weak and I am not weak? 

" But how can I feel within me his sickness and his 
afflictions? Through the union we all have in Jesus Christ, 
Who is our head. All men form a mystic body; we ure all 
members of each other. Now, it has never been heard, not 
even in animals, that one member was insensible to the pain 
of another; that one part of man was bruised, injured, or 
strained and the others did not feel ir. That cannot be; all 
our members have such sympathy, and arc sj connected 
together that the evil of one is the evil of the other. l y far 
greater reason should Christians, being members of the same 
body and members o! one another, commiserate with each 
other. Yes, to be a Christian and to see a brother in affliction, 
and not weep with him, not I ecl Tor his sickness, is to be 
devoid of charity, is to be a Christian in appearance only, is 
to be without humility, is to be worse than the beasts of the 
fields. Let us, then, strive to have sentiments ct grief and of 
sorrow for our neighbor. Let us do, through virtue, what 


people of the world frequently do through hum;!!; 
when they visit a distressed person who has lost father, or 
wife, or relative. What do they do? Gene rally, ihcy put OH 
mourning: when they are come to tli? house sadness i-. 
depicted on their countenance and they say to the bereaved 
person; Alas ! I cannot express my sorrow for the loss I 
suffer in common with you; I am inconsolable! I come to 
mingle my tears with yours ; and other fine woi\!s that testify 
to the share: they take in the affliction. This custom comes 
from the practice of the first Christians. Originally, all these 
were actions inspired by charity; and the evil is that they have 
been separated from their source and are rendered wrong in 
being done through hypocrisy, for fashion s sake, through 
interest, or natural affection, and not from that unity of mind 
and heart, which the Son of God came to establish in His 
Church a unity that causes all the faithful, having one and 
the same spirit in Jesus Christ, as his members, to bo afflicted 
and saddened at the misfortunes of their brethren. According 
to this we should regard whatever befals our neighbor as 
happening to ourselves, and this, as well in joy as in sorrow, 
for it is also an act of charity to rejoice with those who rejoice. 
Let us, then, rejoice at the good success of our neighbor, and 
be glad that he surpasses us in honor, in name, in talent, in. 
grace and in virtue. 

Fifth Act: "To anticipate each other in honor. And 
why? Because, otherwise, it might seem as if one acts the 
gentleman, the great, or the haughty, all which contracts the 
heart, whilst the contrary opens and expands it. Humility i.-3 
a product of charity, and it impels us, when we meet our 
neighbor, to make the first advances in the honor and respect 
we owe him, and in tin s way it conciliates his affections. Who 
does not love an humble person ? A ferocious lion, ready to 
devour the animal that would resist, is immediately appeased 
when he sees it trembling, and, as it were, humbled at his feet. 
What else can we do but love a person who humbles himself? 
He is like a valley that receives the moisture of the mountains; 
he draws down upon himself the blessings and the good will 
of all. 

Sixth Act: " To cst (lie ail d ion w,> bear cajli other..: 
We should, each one, shpw that wo love each oilier Smlially. 
This is done in offering onr services, pro-Tided Ave 
offer them Avith a good Avill and sincerely, saying for example: 
IIo\v I would like to afford you pleasure! To do you a good 
turn in order to prove hov: 1 cherish yon! And alter having 
said ifc \viththe lips, to confirm it by action in effectively 
striving to rerve every ono, and t;> make ourselves all to all. 
For, it is not sufficient to have charity in (he heart and in 
word ; it should pass into action, even to the extent of giving, 
if required, our life, a.! did our Lord. Then it is perfect and 
becomes pregnant ; it; engenders love in the hearts of those in 
Avhosc lavor it is exercised." 

It was charity, also, that lie preached to the communities. ol* 
Avhich he \\a? director, and notably to the Xuns of the. 
Visitation. He said: " Each one of you must burn with 
charity, and charity must be practiced" among you in every, 
possible manner. Any Avant of mutual esteem, or any word, 
or speech injurious to our neighbor is, in communities, 
insufferable. I fear very much that ruin will fall upon those 
communities, the members of which are not closely united to 
each other. And this never happens but thiongh lack of 
esteem, of forbearance and of ; charity. Nuns must look 
upon each other as the spouses of Jesus Christ, the temples of 
the Holy Ghost, and the living images of God. and. in this, 
light, they must reciprocally bear for one another a great love 
and respect. For this purpose we must employ two means. 
The first is to have recourse to the goodness of God, who is all 
love and charity, in order to beg a portion of the lights and 
the Divine fervor of His spirit ; the second is to conceive a great 
desire for onr amendment, and to labor in earnest to correct 
the faults which AVC commit against charity; making our 
particular exatnen ou this carefully so as to rectify, and tako 
from our hearts, Avhatever may in any manner impair the 
union we ought to have \vith God and aniDiig ourselves." 

To particular individuals, as well as to communities, he loved 

to render services. Ho dissuaded religious, whs consulted 

.him, from entering lax communities. "It is a disorder and not 


an order, he would say; "a phantom of religion where there, 
is no safety for conscience." 

Rarely, and then only in (he case of disorder in a community, 
did he permit any one to change his order. From the 
following, letter we may judge of all the others, and also 
perceive the humble and charitable precautions under cover of 
which Vincent administered severe reproaches and gave difficult 
counsels: I have read your letter, Reverend Father, with 
respect, and, indeed, with confusion, seeing that you address 
yourself to the most wcridly-mindcd and least spiritual of men, 
and one that is by all recognized as such. Yet, notwithstand 
ing all this, I will not neglect to give you my little thoughts 
on what you propose to me, not through any desire to give 
advice, but simply through that, courtesy that our Lord wishes 
we should show towards our neighbor. I was consoled in 
-seeing the have for a perfect union with our 
Lord ; your faithful correspondence with grace for this 
purpose and the caresses with which His Divine Goodness so 
often favored you, the great difficulties and contradictions 
you have met witli in the different states through which you 
have passed, and, finally, in noticing the singular love you 
have forjthat great mistress of spiritual life, St. Theresa. 

* 13ut, though all this be so, I yet think, Reverend Father, 
that there is more security for you to remain in I he common life 
of your holy order and to submit yourself entirely to the direc 
tion of your superior, than to change and enter another, though 
holy. And first, because it is a maxim, that a religious should 
aspire to animate himself with the spirit of his order, other 
wise, he will have but the costume; and a? your order is 
recognized as one of the most perfect in the Church you have 
a still greater obligation to persevere in it, and to labor to put 
on its spirit by the practice of thos : _ i virtues by which you 
"were induced to enter it. In the second place, it is another 
maxim that the spirit of our Lord acts quietly and sweetly, 
Trheivas that of nature and the malign spirit act harshly and 
morosely. But, it would seem from what you tell me that 
your manner of acting is harsh and morose, and makes you 
hold with too much obstinacy and attachment to your own 

eilAUITY. 125 

opinions in opposition to of your superiors and to this 
even your natural disposition carries you. Consequen Iy, 
Reverend Father, I think you ought to give yourself anew 
to God in order to renounce your own judgment and to 
accomplish His most holy will in the state to v/hici ll .s 
Providence has called you." 

He made his sentiments and his conduct in regard to 
religious communities the ruic for his priests and his Daughters 
of Charity: "Entertain esteem and ivspoct for all/ he 
said to them, "and never allow any envy, jealousy, or any 
other feeling contrary to the humility and charity of Jems 
Christ to enter your minds. Alv/ays speak of them in 
terms of esteem and atfec:ion. N\ j ver find fault with (heir 
conduct ; make open profession of considering as gjod what 
ever they do." 

He wrote again: "You ask mo how you should comport 
yourself towards members of religious orders. You should 
endeavor to serve them, and, on occasion, prove to them that 
you have such a disposition ; visit them at times; never take 
sides against them, nor interest yourself in their affairs save to 
charitably defend them ; speak of them in good p irt ; say 
nothing either in public or private that might wound them, 
even though they do not the same by you. I would like that 
we all would do this ; for they are religious and in a state of 
perfection, and, therefore, we ought to honor and servo 

When there was rivalry or conflict between members of his 
own and other orders, as it happened in Poland, he wrote: 
" I adore in this the hand of (^od, without whose order 
nothing is done, and we would do better to look, in the light 
of His good pleasure, on all the evils and disappointments that 
happen us, than to lay the blame on any one. And even were 
it true that those of whom you were informed bore us envy 
and worked their worst against us, still, I would never tire in 
esteeming, in loving, and in serving them as much as possible, 
whether here or elsewhere." 

And two years after : -In regard to the attacks you fear 
from a certain community, 1 hope, in the mercy of God, that 


(hey will not take place, and I beg yon to take all possible 
measures to avoid them by anticipating these good Fathers in 
your respect, your offers o I service and your deference. This 
is what we strive to do here, and wo do not find much trouble 
in it. I am firmly resolved, even were they to throw dirt into 
my nice, never to manifest the least resentment, in order not 
to" break with them, nor depart from the esteem and honor 
I owe them. I do this for the sake of God. Should they 
chance to say or do anything injurious to your little bark, even 
with the intention of submerging it. suffer it for the love of 
God who knows well how to preserve you from shipwreck., 
and how to make the calm succeed the tempest. Do not 
complain, say not a single word about it, and do not cease to 
manifest affection for them when you meet them just as if 
nothing were the matter. You must not be astonished at 
things of th is na ure, but rather dispose yourself to receive 
them properly. For, as oppositions existed among the apostles, 
and even among the angels, without, however, any offence 
against God, each tiding according to his lights, so God 
permits sometimes His servants to contradict and oppose each 
other, and allows one congregation to persecute another. 
There is far more evil in this than is imagined, though oil 
have an upright intention, but for those who humble them 
selves, and do not resist, there is always a great gain." 

The missionaries, having reiterated their complaints, he, 
with still greater persistence, repeated his counsels, 
possible, my dear sir, that those good fathers treat us in the 
manner you describe ? I have great difficulty in believing it. 
But granting it to be so, I beg of you and the community 
with you two things: the first, not to mention it, nor to com- 
plain to any person. This would be far worse ; and secondly, 
you should overcome evil with good, which means that you 
should visit them as formerly, and speak favorably and 
respectfully of them on every occasion, and also, should it please 
God to give you the opportunity, do them a good ^ turn. 
These practices arc according to God, and to true wisdom, 
whilst the contrary produce a thousand unfortunate results/ 

A reconciliation having been effected, he exclaimed : 


Blessed be (lo;l that the congregation lives in peace and 
respect with these very reverend fathers, and pray our Lord to 
give us the grace to do the Fame with all the others!" ^.^ 

He addressed to Rome similar answers during an opposition,., 
on the part of the Oratorians, to his metnhers : " It is true- 
that they wish to embroil us. ... . . All that would not, 

astonish me, did not my sins make me tremble. . . . Yet,. 

I cannot express how all these artifices surprise me. Xever- 
thele^s, you will not in the most Christian manner possible, 
with those who cause us embarrassment. Here, I see them 
as often and as cordially, thanks be to God, as before; audit, 
seems to me that, by the grace of God, I not only bear them 
no aversion, but that I honor and cherish them the more." 
In the meantime,. the Oratorians asked of him some of his-, 
priests, in order, by their lessons and example, to form them- . 
selves in the method of giving missions, and he complied : 
"For," he said, " I would not believe myself a Christian did I 
not endeavor to participate in the ivonld that all could 
prophesy o i St^Paul. Alas! my dear sir, the field is so vast ! 
There are thousands who fill hell: all the ecclesiastics with all . 
the religious orders would not suffice to remedy the evil f 
Would you have us so wretched as to be jealous of those^ 
persons applying themselves to succor these poor souls who 
are going in the Avay of destruction ! Oh ! surely, this would 
be TO hinder the accomplishment of the mission of Jesus 
Christ on earth ! If, on the other hand, people try to prevent 
us from working, we must pray, we must humble ourselves, 
and do penance for the sins we have committed in this holy 
ministry. And, three years after, the opposition still continu 
ing, he again wrote to Rome, on the 9t;h of July, 1G55 : " That 
will not hinder me, even though they take out my eyes, from 
esteeming them, and cherishing them as children do their 
parents. They think then d > a service to God. I desire and 
I pray our Lord that each one of the congregation do the 

Providence, having called upon tlu- Congregation of the 
Mission to serve the clergy by means of the spiritual exercises 
for those about to be ordained, and by the direction of 

138 viurt Es A\I> uouniixK OK sr. VIXCEXT ny. PALM. 

83min:irio3, almost at the samp timo that they wero called to 
labor for the salvation of the poor people, the Saint strove, in 
the first instance, to impivss his children with the divine 
greatness and the necessity of this new ir.inistry : To be 
employed in training good priests and to contribute thereto, 
fts a second efficient instrumental cause, is to perform the 
work o! Jesus Christ, Who, during His mortal life, seems to 
Lave assumed the lask of making twelve good priests, who 
were the apostles; having deigned to live with them Tor years 
in oix .er to instruct and form them u\ the Divine Ministry. 
, . . We are; then, all called by God to the state we have 
fcinbracod, to labor in this eminent; work ; for, to help to make 
good priests is a preeminent work, than which nothing greater 
or morj important in this world can be thought. What is 
there in the world so grand as the ecclesiastical state? 
Principalities and kingdoms bear no comparison to it. Kings 
cannot, like the priests, change bread into the body of our 
TJ >rcl. forgive sins, or do the other wonders whereby priests 
*.nrpiiss all t?mporal greatness," 

Ii sue!) bo the greatness of the priest, judg? of his action 
whether beneficent or fatal according as he is IVtithl ul or 
otherwise to his vocation. "As is the pastor, so will be the 
people. To the officers of the army is attributed the good <>r 
cnl successor the war. In like manner we can say that if 
the ministers of the Church -are good, if they perform their 
duty, all will be well ; but if, on the contrary, they are un 
faithful, they are the cause of all disorders. . . . Yes, we 
ivre Hie cause of the desolation that at present ravages the 
Church, of the deplorable diminution it has suffered in so 
many places; being almost entirely destroyed in Asia, in 
Alriea, and even in a great portion of Europe, as in Sweden, in 
Denmark, in England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland and the 
United Provinces, and in a great part of Germany. And how 
many heretics do we nor sec in France! . . . Yes, Lord, 
\ve, ir is, who have provoked Thy wrath ; our sins have drawn 
down these calamities. Yes, it is the clerics and those who 
aspire to the ecclesiastical state, it is the subdeacons, the 
deacons, the priests,it is we, who are priests, who have been the 


cause of this desolation hi the Church." And entering more 
particularly into details ho passed in review the different 
classes of ecclesiastics of his time. Some are useless. " They 
read their breviary, celebrate mass, but very negligently, a few 
administer the sacraments so GO, and that is all." But a great, 
number of others arc in disorder and vice. And hi: mentioned, 
the priests of an entire province, who were so given up to in 
temperance that it was necessary to hold a council of bishops in 
order to devise a means to stay so ignoble a vice, and none 
could bo found. Yet, to console himself and his crmfreros, he 
added: But yon must not imagine that all are disorderly. 
No, my Savior! 0, ho\v many holy ecclesiastics there are I 
A great many, both pastors and others, come here to make 
their retreat, and they come from a distance expressly to place 
their interior in good order. And hovr many holy priests- 
there are in Paris ! There is a very great n umber ; and of 
these gentlemen cf the conference, who assemble Ii3re, there is 
not one who is not exemplary; they all labor with wonderful 
fruit. If, then, there are in the world bad ecclesiastics and 
I am the worst, the most unworthy and the greatest sinner o 
them all i hero arc, also, on the contrary, those who 
openly praise Gnd by the holiness of their lives. " 

But onr vocation is to correct the bad and perfect the good. 
And who are we for such a ministry ? " Wo are but wretchel 
men, sons of farmers and peasants ; and what proportion is 
there between us, miserable as we are, and an employment so 
holy, so eminent, and so heavenly? . . . Yet. it is to us that. 
God has confided so great a grace as is that of contributing to 
the reform of the ecclesiastical order. God did not, for this 
purpose, apply to the doctors* in theology, or to the many 
communities and religious orders so full of learning and 
sanctity ; but He has addressed Himself to this wretched, poor, 
and miserable congregation, the last and most unworthy of 
all. What has God found in us to merit so great aa occupa 
tion ? Where arc our wonderful exploits? Where are the 
brilliant and illustrious actions we have done? Where, Unit 
great capacity ? There is nothing of all this. God, simply 
of His will, has addressed Himself to poor miserable idiots 

1VJ v i :t r i; !:.; \x.> I><K;TKIXK: <>> ST. VINCENT I>K PAUL 

tp try ta rapiir the ruins in t] dom of His Son, and in 

eool^siastioal st^re. Oh, gentlemen, let us care fully .vnfch 

; tins gru.33 which God 1, < i us in preference to so 

miny Iv^ir.ioJ. and holy personj wl :cd il; fur better than 

we : for if, through our neglect, we permit, ir to lie idle, God will 

wirhliMw it from us raid to punish cur unfaithfulness He will 

gi re it to o:hers. 

A 1 .!-! who among us \viU be t io cause of so <rre;it an evil, 
ir.i.l who will doprivo the Churc i ofoo great a good ? Will I. 
niiserable, b3 the one? Let each one put his hand on hin 
C3:-,sc : enco and ask of himself: Will I be th. 1 unfortunate one? 
Alas! ir requires but one miserable person, such as I am, who, 
by his abomination?, turns away the favor of Heaven from an 
entire house, and brings upon it the curse of God. O, my 
L ji\l, Thon who soest me all covered and filled with sins that 
: down, do uot, 0:1 this account, deprive this little con- 

gregation oi Thy grace. Grant that it may continue to serve 
Thee in humility and with fidelity, and that it may co-operate 
wi r.h the design, it seems Thou hast, o! making, through its 
ministry, a l-\st effort to contribute in r.establishing the 
honor and glory of Thy Church !" 

TJIIS Vincent always delighted in his lowliness, thus he 
took ulcasur? in plunging into it. and strove to instil into his 
<.lisj:p!e3 the same sentiments. But, far fro-n finding in -t 
despair, he drew from it 1 reih confidence. " God, he said, 
has alwavs made use of weak instruments for His greatest 
designs. In inslitnting His Church, did He not choose twelve 
poor, ig.ioranr, a:id rustic men? And yet, by their means, 
our L<>ru overturned idolatry, subjected to the Church the 
prinoaa and the powerful of the earth, and extended our holy 
L-eligi >n throughout the entire world. He can also mitke use 
oi us, pit uble as wo are, to aid in the advancement in virtue 
of the ecclesiastical statp. In the name of our Lord, gentle 
men and my brothers, let us give ourselves to Him, in order 
that we may contribute to this object by all the means in em 
power, by good example, by prayer, and by mortification." 

In these last words he summed up the means he was 
accus .omed to advise for the success of the holy work. First, 

t 1IAKITV. i-U 

last, and at all times, prayer. "In view of our want of 
ability we must pray much. My Savior, nothing vail avail if 
Thou dosi: not lend a helping hand. Thy grace must work nil 
in us. and must give ud that spirit without which we can do 
nothing. What do we kno-.v how fo do, we, who arc miserable 
persons? 0, Lord, give us the spirit ol Thy priesthood, such 
as had the Aposlles and the first priest? who succeeded them. 
Give us the true spirit of that sacred character which Thou 
hast impressed on poor fishermen, on artisans, on poor persons 
of 1 hat period to whom Thou didst, by Thy grace, communi 
cate t:iat great and divine spirit/ Then, at the time o! the 
ordinations, he asked cf all, in order to obtain good priests, to 
o l cr to God their communions, their prayers and nil their 
good works. -He asked this oT his own community, lie. asked 
it of the religious communities, and oi the Ladies of Charity, 
whom lie sent, to the altar of the Blessed Virgin in the Church 
of iN otre Dame. And, to encourage them in their prayers, 
he said : " St. Theresa, who in her time saw the need the 
Ohurr.h had of good workmen, asked of God ihat he be pleased 
to send good priest?, and she wished that the sisters of her 
order would pray for that object. And, perhaps, the change 
ibr the better which is now discernible in the clergy is owing, 
in part, to the piety of this great ?dint. He was assured that 
these prayers would obtain their object, in proportion as they 
were olfered by the humble. For this reason, lie begged 
them of the most humble brother in his community. It may 
be," he added, " that, should it please God, any fruit should 
come, it will come from the prayers of som.3 brother who will 
not even see the ordinands. He, Avhilsi occupied with Iris 
ordinary duty, and whilst working, will often elevate his mind 
to God to pray Him to be pleased to bless the ordination ; and, 
perhaps, his thinking it, God will grant the grace lie 
desires, on account of the good dispositions of his heart. 
There is averse in ihePsulms: Tke Lord hulk heard t te 
desires of the poor." . . . Here Vincent stopped suddenly, 
not remembering the rest of the, and, according to his 
humble, familiar and dramatic manner, turned towards his 
assistants, and asked: k Who will tell me the rest? Some 
one finished the verse: " Thy car hath heard iltc preparation 


of their ItC trL" ( Ps. ix., 17.) " God bless von, sir," said the 
saint. That was his ordinary thanks. And, charmed with 
the- beauty of the passage he repeated it several times with 
feelings of joy and devotion, and continued: Wonderful 
manner of speech, worihy of the Holy Ghost ! The Lord hath 
heard the desire ot the poor, lie hath heard the preparation of 
their heart, to show us that God hears souls well disposed even 
before they pray. This is a great consolation, and we ought 
to take courage in the service of God though we perceive in 
ourselves nothing but misery and poverty." 

To prayer he recommended them to join humility. " These 
ought to be the arms of a missionary. By means of humility, 
which causes ns to seek for ourselves only confusion, all will 
succeed. For, believe me. gentlemen and my brothers, believe 
me, it is sn infallible maxim of Jesus Christ, and one I have 
often announced to you on His part, that as .--oon as a heart is 
void of itself, God fills it; it is He who dwells and acts withinit, 
And it is the desire of confusion that empties us of ourselves; 
it is humility, holy humility. Then we will no longer act, God 
will act in us, and all will go well. Oh. you, then, who labor 
directly in this holy work, you should possess the spirit of the 
priesthood and infuse it into those who have it not, you. to 
whom God has entrusted these souls to dispose them to receive 
this holv and sanctifying spirit, aim not at anything but the 
ulory of God. Have simplicity of heart with Him, and respect 
for these gentlemen. Know that thus you will succeed; every - 
thinf else will be of but very little use. Humility alone ami a 
pure intention of pleasing God have, up to the present, caused 
this work to prosper." 

To praver he recommended them to join hu ; ilitv. These 
ought to be the arms of a missionary. By means of humility, 
which causes us to seek for ourselves only confusion, all will. 
succeed. For, i.elicve me. gentlemen and my brothers, believe 
me it is an infallible maxim of Jesus Christ, and one I have 
often announced to you on His part, that as soon as a heart is 
void of itself God fills it; it is He who dwells a-ul acts within it. 
And it is the desire of confusion that empties us of ourselves; it 
is humility, holy humility. Then we will no longer act, but 


God will act in us, find all will go well. Oh 3-011, then, who 
labor directly in this holy work, you should possess the spirit 
of the priesthood and infuse it with those who have it not you 
to whom Gocl has entrusted these souls to dispose them to 
receive this holy and sanctifying spirit, aim not at anything but 
the glcry of God. Have simplicity of heart with Him, and 
respect for these gentlemen; know that thus you will succeed; 
everything else will be of little use Humility alone and a pure 
intention of pleasing God have, up to the present, caused this 
work to prosper." 

Humility is devoted and obliging. Let us show these 
gentlemen, the ordinands, eve>y mark of respect and deference, 
not appearing proud and reserved, but waiting on them humbly. 
being particularly vigilant in seeing, in going after, and 
bringing without delay whatever may please them: being prompt 
in meeting their wants; designing even, if possible, their 
inclinations and desires, and anticipating then; in order to 
satisfy them as far as is reasonable. 

lint, for the success of the exercises, he counted especially 
on the preaching by good example, of all preaching the most 
eloquent and efficacious : "What the eye gens." he said, 
"touches us far more than what the car hears, and we believe 
rather in the good we see than in that -which we hear. And 
though faith enters by the ear, Faith then comdh ly hearing, 
yet the virtues we see put into practice have more effect on us 
than those we are taught. Physical things have all their dif 
ferent properties whereby they are distinguished. Every 
animal, even man himself, has its qualities which make it 
known as it is and distinguish it from every other of a like 
kind. So, too, the servants of God have their peculiar quali 
ties that distinguish them from carnal men. It is a certain 
external composure, humble, recollected, and devout, proceeding 
from the grace within them, and carrying its operations into the 
souls of those who beheld them. There are some here, in the 
house, so filled with God that I cannot look upon them without 
being moved. Painters, in their pictures of the saints, represent 
them to us as surrounded with rays : it is because the just who 
live holily on this earth shed about them a certain light which 
is peculiar to them alone. Such grace ard modesty appeared 


in the Ulessed Virgin that :ill who hud ihc happiness of 
beholding her wore impressed with reverence ; ml devotion ; 
and, iu our Lord, these appeared to a far greater extent, and it 
is the same, in proportion, \vith all the suint>. All this prove?, 
gentlemen, and my brothers, that, if yon labor in the acquisi 
tion of virtue, if yon abound in divine things, if each one, in 
his own particular, tends continually to perfection, even when 
you possess no external talent to direct these gentlemen, the 
ordinands, God will so \voik that your presence uione Avill shed 
a light on their umLvstaiiding and will excite thoir will to 
become better." 

lie thus concluded this chapter on the edification of the 
ordinands: "How blessed you are, gentlemen, in pouring into 
these souls the spirit of God by your piety, your meekness, 
your nllability, your modesty and humility, and in servino- (; d 
in the persons of His greatest servants . How happy are YOU 
who give them good example at the conferences, in ceremonies, 
in cl-oir, in the refectory, ami everywhere. Oh, how happy we 
ail will he, if, by our silence, our discretion, and charity, we 
correspond with the iniention of God in sending them to us/ 

In those who preached the retreats to the ordinands Vincent 
required simplicity in style and purity in intention. Uul, for 
this, self must be forgotten, God must be invoked, and alt inspi 
ration demanded of Him: " For God is .<>n inexhaustible source 
of wisdom, of light, and of love. In Him we should drink in 
what we say to others. We should reject our own under 
standing and our particular sentiments in order to give place 
to the operations of gr:.ce which alone illumines and warms the 
heart. We must go out of ourselves and enter into God. We 
must consult Him to learn His language, and beg Him. Himself, 
to speak in us and by us. He, then, will do His work and we 
will spoil nothing. Our Lord, when converging among men, 
did not speak as of Himself: " My doctrine," sa.d He "is not 
of Myself, but of My Father : the words which I speak to you 
are not Mine, but are of God." This shows us the. great 
necessity of having recourse to God, that He, and not we, may 
speak and act." 

When the Congregation saw the number of seminaries which 


it directed increasing the Saint likewise redoubled his encouragc- 
incnt, in order to strengthen the charity of his members 
against the weight of their employments and against the fear 
that the work of the clergy would injure that of the Mission. 
He said : "The Missionaries are particularly sent by God to 
labor for the sanetifieation of ecclesiastics, and one of their 
ends is to instruct ecclesiastics not- only in human knowledge, 
but also in the practice of virtue; for, to show them the one 
without the other is to do little and almost nothing. Talent 
and a <-<-ood life are necessary ; without the latter, the former is 


useless and dangerous. We should lead them equ.illy to both, 
and this is what God requires of u< . In the beginning, we did 
not think at all of serving the clergy, we simply thought of 
ourselves and of the poor. How did the Son of God begin ? lie 
hid Himself, He seemed to think only of Himself, He prayed 
to Gcd. and performed only those things which pertained to 
Himself; this is all that He seemed to do. Afterwards, He 
announced His Gospel to the poor. And then, after that, He 
called His apostles. He took the pains to instruct them, to 
admonish them and to train them, and finally, He animated 
them with His spirit not for themselves alone, hut for all the 
peoples of the earth. He also taught them all that was neces 
sary for priests to administer the sacraments and to acquit 
themselves of their ministry* In the same way. our little Con 
gregation, in the commencement, only busied itself with it- 
own -piritual advancement and in evangelizing the poor. At 
certain periods, it retired inlo its own privacy, nnd, at others. 
it went out to instruct the country people; God permitted that 
alone to appear in our beginnings. But in the fullness of tin e 
lie called us to contribute our share in forming good priests, in 
u-ivino good pastors to parishes, and in pointing out to thorn 
what t.hev cut to know, and what they ought to practice. Oh. 
but this employment is eminent:. It is sublime! Ol), how far 
above us it is! Who among us ever dreamt of the exercises for 
the ordinands, or of the seminaries ? Never didthat undertaking 
come into our minds until God signified that it was His pleasure 
that we should devote ourselves to it. He has, then, led the 
Congregation to these duties without any choice on our part, 
and therefore, He requires that we apply ourselves to them; but 


our application must bo serious, humble, devout, constant, and in 
accordance with the excellence of the work. Some, perhaps, 
will say that they entered the Congregation only to labor in 
the country, and not to enclose themselves in a city in teaching 
in a seminaiy; but each and all of us know full well that the 
occupations in which we are engaged in the house in regard to 
ecclesiastics, and particularly, the work of the seminaries, are 
not to be neglected under pretext of giving missions. AVc 
must do the latter, and not neglect the former, since we are 
almost equally obliged Irv our institute to acquit ourselves of 
the one as well as of the other, and because long experience has 
proved that it is extremely difficult for the fruits of the missions 
to endure for long without the aid of the pastors to whose 
advancement in virtue the other works of the Congregation 
seem to contribute not a little. Therefore, each one will give 
himself to God, with a good heart, in order to perform his duty 
well and faithfully. To labor for the instruction of the poor is 
a great work, it is true, but it is still more important to instruct 
the ecclesiastics, for, if th^y be ignorant, the people they 
conduct must, by necessity, be ignorant likewise. The Son of 
God might have been asked : Why art Thou come? Is it not 
to preach the Gospel to the poor in obedience to the order of 
Thy Eternal Father? AVhy, then, dost Thou train up priests? 
Why take so much care in teaching and in forming them? To 
which Our Lord could have answered that lie crane not only to 
teach the truths necessary for salvation, but also to ordain good 
priests, and better than those of the Old Law. You know that, 
of old. God rejected those priests who were polluted, or who 
hud ] rofancd the sacred things, that He held their sacrifices in 
abomination, and that He said He would raise up other priests 
who, from the rising to the setting of the sun, from the South 
to the North, would make their voices and their words resound 
Th irxunnd li ith yone forth into all the earth. And by whom 
has he accomplished this promise? By His Son, Our Lord, who 
has instituted a priesthood, who has instructed and fashioned 
His priests, and through whom He has given power to His 
Church to ordain others: As the Fa .lier hath sent me so do I 
send you. And this for the purpose of continuing, by their 
ministry, throughout all ages, what He Himself did towards the 



close of His life, in order that all nations may be saved by their 
instructions, ami by the administration of the sacraments. It 
would, then, be an illusion, and a great illusion, in a missionary 
not to wish to apply himself to the work of contributing to 
form good priests, and all the more so, as there is nothing 
Greater thnn a good priest. Think as long as we may, we will 

(3 O * 

find that we can co-operate in nothing greater thtin in forming 
a <>-ood priest, to whom Our Lord gives a power over His 

O 1 

natural body which is the amazement of angels, and over His 
mystic body the power of remitting sin which for them is a 
subject of wonder and of gratitude. Oh. my God, what a power! 
Oh, what a dignity: Is there anything greater or more admira 
ble? Oh, gentlemen, how great a thing is a good priest! What 
can a good ecclesiastic not do? AVhat conversions can he not 
procure? Upon the priests depends the happiness of Christen 
dom. This consideration, then, obliges us to serve the 
ecclesiastical state which is so ho y and so elevated, and still 
more the need the Church has of good priests to remedy the 
immense ignorance and the innumerable vices with which the 
eaith is covered, and for which pious souls ought to shed tears 
of blood. 

There is question whether all the disorders we witness be 
not attributable to the priests. This may scandalize some, 4 but 
the subject requires that by the magnitude of the evil the import 
ance of the remedy be shown. For sometime back, this ques 
tion has been the subject of several conferences, and it hr.s been 
thoroughly treated, in order to discover the sources of so many 
evils; and the conclusion arrived at was that the Church had no 
greater enemies than bad priests. Heresies sprang from them 
We have the instance of the last heresies in those two great 
horesiarchs. Luther and Calvin. They were priests. It is by 
priests that heresy has prevailed, vice has reigned, and ignorance 
established its throne among the poor people; and this, because 
of their own disorders and their neglect to oppose with all their 
strength, as was t -eir boundcn duty, these three torrents that 
inundated the rarlh. What sacrifice, then, gentlemen, will you 
not m:;ke to God. in or. .er to labor for their reformation so that 
thev may live conformably to the sanctity of their state, and that 
the Chnrch may rise from out her shame and desolation?" 


P>ut the privileged object of that charity which ho so reeom 
ided to his cbildren was the poor. He said: -God loves 
the poor, and, by consequence, He loves who love the: 
po.->r. For when we have a great love for anyone \vc have also 
an affection for his friends and servants. Now, the little Con 
gregation of the Mission strives to devote itself with affection 
to the service of the poor, who are the well beloved of God. 
and hence, we have reason to hope that, out of love for them. 
He will love ils. All who, during life, love the poor, need have- 
no fear of death. Courage, then, my brethren, and let us 
devote ourselves with renewed love to serving the poo-. Let 
\\^ even seek out the most wretched and the most abandoned. Let 
us acknowledge before God that they are our lords and masters, 
and that AVC are unworthy to render them our little services. 
, . . . When we visit them let us enter into their feelings and 
sutler with them; let us inspire ourselves with the sentiments of 
the Great Apostle, who said: / became nil tkimj!* t > aU men. 
that thus we may not fall under the complaint formerly made by 
our Lord through one of His prophets: And I /ooAyr/ for onetlict 
w.-uld fjriei e together wilk me, but there was njitc. 

" For this we must try to move our hearts to pitv and to 
make them susceptible of the sufferings and misfortunes of our 
neighbor, and pray tc God to give us the tine spirit of mercy, 
which is the spirit of Od Himself, thai when a missionary is 
seen i ; can be said: There goes :; man tilled with compassion and 
ineicy.We should abound in mercy far more than other piiests; 
for we are obliged, by our state and our vocation, to serve 
the most miserable, the most abandoned, and those most 
burdened with corporal and spiritual miseries Let us have 
this compassion in our hearts; let us manifest it in our exterior 
and on our countenance, after the example of our Lord who 
wept over the City of Jerusalem OH account of the calamities 
that were about to overtake it. Let us use words of sympathy, 
proving to our neighbor thai we take an interest in him and in 
his sufferings; finally, let us aid and assist him in his necessities 
and misfortunes as well MS we can, and endeavor to relieve him 
entirely or in part, for the hand ought to be as far as possible 
ronformcd to the hear! " 

The insane and the young libertines detained at St. Lazarus 


ulso formed tlie subject as well of his recommendations us of his 
cbarity. In frequent COL ferenees he sustained the courage of 
those who gave themselves to so ungrateful and so repugnant 
.a task: li It is, he said to them, "all the more meritorious 
because nature finds in it no satisfaction, and because it is a good 
work done, in sec ret, and in favor of thoso who will return no 
siirn of gratitude. These are sick in body, those in mind; these 
.are stupid, those light; these are civ.zy, those v cious. In a 
word, ail are estranged in mind, the former by iniirmity, the 
latter through malice. What a spirit of direction \ve priests 
need to guide ihem : What grace, what strength, what 
patience our poor brothers require to bear with so much trouble 
and endure such labor." And he animated their courage by 
the memory of soir.e of the Sovereign Pen tills whom the I agau 
Emperors eoudcmne:! to guard the beasts of the circus "The 
men of whom you have charge are not beasts; yet are they, by 
their disorder and debai.cheries, in some ways, worse than 
animals." He proposed to them especially the ex&oaple of our 
Lord who wished to experience in his person every species of 
misery, and he exclaimed: "Oh, my Savior, Thou who art 
uncreated wisdom. Thou who hast suffered Thyself to be a rock 
of scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, Thou 
hast been willing to pass for a fool!" It was again by the 
example of Jesus Christ that he answered those who said to 
him: " We have no rule which obliges us to receive at St. 
Lazarus either crazy people or young demons." He replied: 
> Our rule hi this is Jesus Christ, who ha:, wished to be sur 
rounded by the insane, by the obsessed, by idiots by those 
tempted and by those possessed by the devil. From all sides 
they brought them to Him to be freed, and this He did v. itli 
great kindness. Why, then, blame us, or find fault, because we 
endeavor to imitate Him in a tiling which lie has shown to be 
so agreeable to Him ? 

" If He received the estranged in mind and those possessed by 
demons, why should not we also? AVe do not go to seek them, 
thev are brought to us. And how do we know that His Provi 
dence, which so ordains, does not wish to make use of us to 
heal the infirmities of these poor people with whom our gentle 
Savior wished to sympathize to such a degree a^ to ;.eem to 


have Himself assumed their weakness? Oh, my Savior and nry 
God, grant vis the grace to look upon these things with the- 
same eye with which Thou hast regarded them ! 

There was another motive which he urged for assisting these 
unfortunates; it was thus that St. Lazarus became a grand, 
school of experience wherein they could learn to compassionate 
with all classes of evils, and exercise themselves in all their 
charitable functions. Bless Got), gentlemen and my 
brothers." he said, "and thank Him, because He gives us the 
care of these poor people deprived of sense, and of the power 
of governing themselves; for, in serving them, we see and we 
experience how great and how varied human miseries are. and 
by this knowledge we become the better fitted to labor success 
fully for our neighbor . We will acquit ourselves of our functions 
with so much the more fidelity as we the better know from our 
o\vn experience what it is to sutler. For this reason I beg of 
those who tend these persons to take good care of them, and I 
ask the Congregation to frequently recommend them to God. 
and to prize this opportunity of exercising charity and 
patience toward* those poor people.. Otherwise, God will 
punish us. Yes, be prepared to see a curse fall upon, the 
house of St. Lazarus, if the proper and just care of them be 
neglected.. I recommend, especially, that they be properly 
nourished, and, at least, as well as the commnnity. I would 

prefer that it would be taken away from me, and given to 
them " 

With what indignant charily he reproved those who closed 
their hearts in the presence of the miserable! One of his 
priests, having condemned his great liberality in favor of the 
foundlings, and having complained of the straits to which 
thereby the house of St. Lazarus was reduced, and the ruin 
that threatened, the Saint returned this beautiful answer:: 
" May God pardon him this weakness which so removes him. 
from lite sentiments of the" Gospel! Oh, what meanness of 
faith to believe that, in doing and procuring good for poor and 
abandoned children as these, our Lord will have less bounty for 
us, He who promises to recompense a hundredfold whatever 
may be pivcn for His sake! Since this gentle Savior said to> 
H is disciples: Permit little children to come unto Me, can. 


we, without going contrary to Him, neglect or abandon them 
when they come to us? What tenderness has He not shown 
for little children, embracing them and laying His hands upon 
them! Did they not furnish Him the occasion for establishing 
for us a rule of salvation, ordaining us to become like unto 
them if we wished to enter the kingdom of Heaven? But to 
have charity for children and to take care of them is, in some 
measure, to become a child. And to provide for the necessities 
of foundlings is to take the place of their fathers and mothers, 
or rather it is to take the place of God, Who has said that, if 
the mother forgot her offspring, He Himself would take charge 
and not forget it. Were our Lord still living on earth among 
men, and did He see children abandoned, would He, too. thii k 
you, wish to abandon them? Such a thought would, surely, do 
injustice to His infinite goodness. And we, too, in our turn, 
would be unfaithful to His grace, if, after having been chosen 
by His Providence to provide for the preservation of their 
bodies, and to procure spiritual good for the poor foundlings, we 
became wearied, and abandoned them on account of the trouble 
we experienced." 

The service of the poor was his favorite theme with the 
Sisters of Charity. ". . . . Oh. how happy you are, n;y 
daughters, to have been destined by God for so great and so 
liolv a work. The great ones of the world consider themselves 
happy when they can devote to it a portion of their time, and 
you are witnesses, you. particularly, our Sisters at St. Sulpicius, 
with what zeal and what fervor the good princesses and the 
great ladies who accompany you tend the poor. Oh, my 
daughters, how you should esteem your state wherein you have, 
every day. and every hour of the day, an occasion of doing 
works of charity, which arc the means God makes use of to 
sanctify many souls! Did -nol a St. Louis, my daughters, with 
a holy and an exemplary humility serve the poor in the Hotel 
Dieu an exercise that greatly contributed to his holiness? 
I Tnve not all the saints looked upon it as a good work, and 
sought to tend the poor? Humble yourselves, therefore, when* 
ever you practice this charity, and often reflect, my daughters, 

that God has given A on a grace f:ir above your deserts 

Your principal care, after the love of God and the desire to 


yourselves more agreeable to His Divine Majesty, should 
!c to serve the sick poor with sweetness and cordiality, com 
passionating their sickness and listening to their little 
complaints as a good mother ought to do, for they look upon 
you as persons sent to assist them, as mothers T ,vho nurse them. 
In this way, you are destined to represent in regard to the sick 
poor the goodness of God. But this goodness acts towards 
the a llicted in a sweet :uid charitable way; hence, you, too. 
must treat the sick poor with gentleness, with pity and love, 
for they are your lords and masters as well as mine. Oh. 
what great lords they are in the e3 es of Heaven ! It will be 
taeir dut} r as it is said in the Gospel, to open the gate. Now 
you perceive what obliges you to serve them with respect, 
bee-: use they are your masters, and with piety, because they 

-sent the person of our Lord. You ought not forget to 
suggest to them some good thoughts, something, for example, 

his: Well, my brother, how do you think of making the 
journey to the other world? Then to another: Well, nry 
child, do you not will to go see our Lord ? You must not, 
however, say much tit a time to them, but little by little give 
whatever instruction is necessary, just a? to children at the-brcast 
they give but. little to drink at a time. So. too, should you 
do when your sick arc great personages in the world, for, 
notwithstanding, they arc but children in piety, and a word 
coming from the heart and uttered in the proper spirit suffices, 
to lead them to God. 

You see, 1113 sisters, though it be something to assist the 
poor in their bodies, it never was the design of God in establish 
ing your congregation that you should care for the bod\ r only, 
because there will not be wanting those who will do that; 
but the intention of our Lord was that you should assist the 
soul of the sick poor. That is \ our beautiful vocation. What! 
leave all we have in the world, lather, mother, brothers, sisters, 
relations, friends, possessions, if we have an\-, and even our 
country? And why? To serve the poor, to aid and instruct 
them how to go to H-caven. Is there a^ thiiig more beautiful 
or more worthy of esteem? Could we see a daughter thus 
formed we would see her soul resplendent as the sun; we 
could not gaze upon its beau 13" without being daxxled. Give 


yourselves, then, to God for the salvation of the poor you 

The service of the poor is so essentially the principal vocation 
of this congregation, that the Saint would have, if necessary, 
all things else subordinated to it, every point of the rule, even 
mental prayer and mass; for, as he unceasingly repeated: 
is to leave God for God." He said : Would you think God less 
reasonable than a master who, having commanded his servant 
to do a certain thing, and before the order was fulfilled, bade 
him do something which must be done done instantly! Oh, 
this master would not certainly blame his servant for neglecting 
his first order; on the contrary, he ought to be better pleased. 
It is the same with God. He has called you to the congregation 
to serve the poor, and that this service might be the more 
agreeable He has caused rules to be given you; but if. at the 
time of the exercises, He calls you elsewhere, go on the 
instant and do not once doubt but that you do His most holy 
will. Oh, what a source of consolation for a good Daughter of 
Charity to be able to think and to say to herself: Instead of 
making my prayer,, or my reading, I will go and tend my poor 
sick who are waiting for me, and 1 know God will look upon 
my action as agreeable. Oh, with such a thought, a sister goes 
gladly wherever God calls. 1 

But he also exhorted his confreres to love one another, 
taking as his text these words of St. John: Little children, love 
one another. He told them: "The congregation will last ts 
long as the virtue of charity abides in it." He then pronounced 
.a thousand maledictions on those who, in destroying charity, 
would be the cause of the ruin of the congregation, and added: 
"Charity is the soul of all virtues, and the paradise of commu 
nities. Yes, the house wherein charity reigns is a paradise, 
for, where charity is, there God dwells. A great personage 
lias said that charity is the cloister of God, it is there He 
lodges, there He makes His sojourn, there is His palace of 
predilection. Let us be charitable, meek, let us bear with 
each other, and then God will take up His residence with us, 
we will be His cloisters, He will lodge with us and we will have 
Him iu our hearts." 


Whoever, in a community, has neither charity nor forbear 
ance, resembles, amid so many dissimilar dispositions and 
different methods of action, a vessel, with neither anchor nor 
rudder, sailing- among rocks at the pleasure of wind and wave, 
and which soon becomes shattered into a thousand fragments. 

He wrote: "How I pray God iVcm my heart for you and all 
yours that it may please His Infinite Goodness to give you one 
heart and one soul ! Charity is the cement that binds Christians 
to God, and individuals among themselves; so that he who 
contributes to the union of hearts in a congregation binds it 
indissolubly to God. May it please His infinite bounty to 
animate ns all with His love for it." And when he learned of 
an act of charity, he exclaimed: "Oh, goodness of God, unite 
thus all the hearts of the little Congregation of the .Mission, 
and then command what Thou plcasest. All pain will be sv/eet, 
all work easy, the strong will assist the weak, the weak will 
cherish the strong and obtain for them from God an increase 
of strength, and then, O God, Thy work will be according to 
Thy pleasure and to the edification of the Church, and Thy 
laborers will multiply, drawn by the good odor of such 
charty." (To Genncs, 13 Nov. 1047). 

Union was his parting word to the missionaries who went to 
labor together. He said to them: "lie united, and God will 
bless you; but let it be by the charity of Jesus Christ, for all 
union not cemented by the blood of this Divine Savior cannot 
subsist. It is, then, in Jesus Christ, by Jesus Christ and for 
Jesus Christ, that 3*011 should be united to one another. The 
spirit of Jesus is a spirit of union and peace; how, then, can 
you attract souls to Jesus Christ if you be not united among 
yourselves and with Him? It cannot be done. Have then, 
but one mind r.nd one will; otherwise you will resemble horses 
attached to the same plough, each one pulling in opposite 
directions, and thus destroying and breaking even-thing God 
calls you to labor in His vineyard. Go, having in Him but one 
and the same heart, one and the same intention, and then } r ou 
will reap abundant fruit." 

He sought an example of this union in the most Holy 
Trinit} itself. He said to the Daughters of Charit}*: "I have 


been desiring and wishing for a long time, that our sisters had 
attained to that degree of respect for each other that the world 
outside could never know which one was the sister servant. 
For, see, my Daughters, though God be one in Himself, yet 
there are in Him three per sens, and the Father is not greater 
than the Son, nor the Son greater than the Holy Ghost. In 
like manner, the Daughters of Charity, who ought to bo the 
image of the most Holy Trinity, though numerous should yet 
have but one heart ar.d one mind. And as, again, in the 
sacred persons of the most Holy Trinity the operations, though 
diverse and attributed to each one in particular, have such a 
relation between themselves that when we attribute Wisdom to 
the Son and Goodness to the Holy Ghost, we do not intend to 
say that the Father is deprived of these two attributes, nor that 
the Third Person possesses not the power of the Father nor 
the wisdom of the Son; so, too, among the Daughters of Charity, 
she who serves the poor must have .a relation with the one who 
tends the children, and she who has the care of the children 
should have a relation with her who has charge of the poor. 
And I would still further wish that our sisters would conform 
themselves to the Holy Trinity, in this, that as the Father 
communicates Himself entirely to the Son, and the Son 
entirely to the Father, from which union the Hoi} Spirit 
proceeds, so they, too, would be all in all to each other that 
they may thus produce the works of chority that are attributed 
to the Holy Ghost, and, in this way, have a relation with the 
Most Holy Trin it}*. For you see, my Daughters, he who says 
charity says God. You are the daughters of charity; therefore, 
you ought, as far as possible, conform yourself to the image of 
God. To this tend nil communities that aspire to perfection. 
And what is there in God? There are, my Daughters, 
equality of persons and unity of essence. Well, what does 
this teach you if not that you all, every one of you, should be 
but one and equal? But if there must be a superioress, a 
sister servant? Oh, this ought to be but to give an example of 
virtue and humility to the others by being the first to do every 
thing; the first to humble herself at the feet of her sister, the 
first to beg pardon, and the first to renounce her own opinion 
to follow that of another." 

loG VIKITES AND DOC TKINT <>! ? ! . VtXCENT I>K i Afl.. 

He recommended, especially, mutual forbearance. - It is, T 
.he said, the stay of a Congregation, just as in a house the 
parts below sustain those placed above." The defects of others 
should not discourage us. " Let us look upon defects whether 
of body or of mind as a special mercy from God. and always 
show a particular reverence for those who are afflicted with 
these failings, regarding their persons as strokes of a great 
T though the piece be not finished (Conference, 21st. of 
Oct. 101-3). We should not be astonished when, at times, 
we see faults in certain persons, because God permits this for 
ends of which we know nothing; but what do I sayl God even 
makes use of sins for the justification of a person; yes, sin 
itself eaters, in a certain sense, into the order of prcdestina 
tion, and by means of it, God produces in us acts of penance, 
of humility, of humility, yes, gentlemen, of humility which 
is Our Lord Jesus Christ s own virtue. And. tell, me have not 
roses their thorns? There -is no rose without thorns. The 
defects then, which God permits in certain persons, in some 
more, in some less, serve as ashes to cover up the virtues that 
are in them, so that seeing their faults they may maintain 
themselves in humility and abjection. And who is there not 
subject to eome fault, when even the saints had their failing 1 ?, 
and none but the Son of God and His Blessed Mother were 
exempt? The Apostles were taught in the school of Jesus 
Christ and from His own lips, and yet, you knew what passed 
between them; Petty rivalries, want of faith, so that at the 
Very time the Son of God was ascending into Heaven He 
reproached them with their incredulity. . . . What you 
should fear are the sins of the understanding, for they are very 
rarely, scarcely ever, corrected; they are the most dangerous 
faults." (Conference, 127th of April, 1037). 

Having thus preached forbearance and mutual support, the 
\G old man, throwing himself on his knees, said : "And 
because I have greater need than any other that the Congregation 
bear with me, on account of the many miseries I perceive 
wkhin myself, the many causes of discdification I give my 
brethren and, particularly those who assist me in my little 
infirmities, I therefore, pray you, my brothers, to kindly please 
to continue your charity and forgive the past. Old men, as 

cHAiirrv. 157 

David said, have groat need of support; bear with me, then, 
my brothers. I beg of you, and pray to God that I may 
improve." He then kissed the lloor, us was customary, al! 
the others doing the same. (Conference, 25th of July, 1658.) 
He afterwards cautioned them against whatever could trouble 
charity, against scandal, of which he said: "The malice of 
scandal may be compared to the malice of a person who would 
dig a deep and wide ditch in the middle of a great thoroughfare 
that the passers-by might fall into it, ai:d the better to prevent 
them from being on their guard, would cover the ditch so as to 
hide it from their view. Scandal is something still worse, 
because the malice of that person tends (o precipitate only 
bodies into the ditch, whereas the malice of scc,ndal tends to pre 
cipitate souls into hell, (Conference to Sisters of Charity, 15th. 
of Nov. 1654). 

He likewise combated detraction, of which he said: "The 
darts first pierced the heart of Our Lord before striking those 
for whom they were meant." lie condemned those who lent u 
willing ear, no less than those who slandered: As they say that 
there would be no thieves were there none who icivivcd stoles- 
foods, so, too, can it be said none would dare to detract were none 

o - 1 

willing to listen." (Conference, Sisters, 28th. of Oct. 1646.) 
lie added: " Detraction is like a ravenoi s wolf that desolates 
and ruins the shcepfold that it enters. One of the greatest 
evils that can befall a Congregation is to have within it persons 
who detract, who murmur, and who, never content, always 
find fault." 

Finally, he branded envy: " To envy is to find fault with 
vhe order of God; for if we become displeased because another 
is better off than we, we attack not r,o much him who has the 
advantage over us as Him Who gives it, and God can say to 
us: Is till; eye evil because 1 am <jood? It is to grieve because 
the blqpd of Jesus Christ is not useless, for to this blood arc 
due all graces as well natural as spiritual, whilst we, by our 
sins have merited but hell. It is to place ourself in opposition 
to the communion of saints, for in the Church there is a 
communication of good works. Now, would* a merchant, who 
formed a partnership with another, be angry because his 


l)artnor made great gains, seeing that he is to share in them? 
Will one part of the body rise up in anger, because another is 
sound and healthy." (Repetition of Prayer, 1056.) In a 
word, envy has caused the death of Jesus Christ the envy of 
the devil and the envy of the Jews. Envy is the gate through 
which sin entered Heaven and came upon the earth. Envy 
ruined Lucifer, and from being an angel of light it changed 
him into an angel of darkness. Then the demon, seeing that man 
was made to occupy the place whence he had fallen by his 
rebellion against God, envied him and resolved to destroy him 
by inducing him to fall into sin. He succeeded, and thus, in 
causing the fall of Eve and Adam, he introduced sin into the 
world. And hence, then, it ma} be said, no evil happens in a 
congregation but through envy, which is thus the first source of 
all the sins committed. 

" It is said that they who commit sin experience a. certain 
satisfaction, but it is not so in the sin of env} . This vice is an 
executioner who instantly punishes those who are given to it. 
Look at the envious person; everything gives him pain; the 
good he sees in others and the good he hears of others -wither 
him immediately. He has a serpent in his soul. You know 
the torments those suffer who are afflicted with the tape worm, 
and how they can rest neither by day nor by night. The Holy 
Ghost declares that envy dries up even the marrow in the bones; 
in line, the envious are in a condition far more deplorable than 
those afilicted with tape worm. Let us take the resolution 
never to envy the good of others, nor the esteem of men, nor 
occupations, but choose for ourselves that which is least, the 
employment which is the most painful, the worst garments, and 
look upon ourselves as the least and last of all." (Conference 
to Sisters of Charity, 24th of June, 1054.) 

Let ns further hear the Saint giving us both the precept and 
example of charity, in the efforts he made to retain in Iheir 
vocation those of his members who were tempted to abandon it. 
He wrote, in November 1656: "If you understood the gift 
of God you would not prefer a change to the happiness of serv 
ing our Lord in the state to which lie has called you, a grace so 
great that it ouo-ht to be dearer to you than life. AVhen I 


contrast your present dispositions with those in which I 
formerly saw you, you seem to me no longer the same man. 
Where, now, is that gratitude that so often forced you to thank 
God for having withdrawn you from the world, that you might 
find in the congregation so many means of sanctifying j-ourself, 
and so many exercises of charity to aid others in procuring 
their salvation? Where, now, is that holy indifference to riches 
and employments that caused you so frequently to sny that you 
were ready to go, or to sttiy. in order to follow our Lord ? 
Where is that great fervor you hf.d to do in all things the will 
of (Jod, and. according as it might be made known to you by 
hoi} obedience." He wrote similarly to a brother, on the 5th of 
September, 1649: "Do you not remember the lights God so 
often gave you in prayer, lights that made you resolve before 
His Divine Majesty to publicly declare before the whole 
community that you would rather die than leave it? And, 
behold, on the slightest occasion, when there is question 
neither of death, nor of shedding blood, nor of menaces, you 
surrender without the resisteuce which a promise made to God 
demands, for God is a firm and jealous God and requires to be 
served according to His pleasure! Will you no\v contradict 
that promise, and abuse His grace, make light of His goodness 
and afterwards endure the regrets that others experienced 
through like disorders? I have not seen anyone, to whom God 
gave the graces which yo~i have received from His kindness leave 
any community, without feeling in his conscience the reproach of 
God, and in his daily life a thousand vexations. But. you will 
say, I have the intention of always pleasing God. Alas! there 
is no lack of good pretexts; and if you examine you will find that 
your action is not prompted by the desire of rendering yourself 
better, of becoming more submissive, more detached from the 
world and from your own case, more humble, more mortified, 
and more united to your neighbor by charity, as is necessary 
in order to become more pleasing to God. You think, however, 
my dear brother, to render Him service and work out your 
salvation in removing yourself from the way of perfection: this 
is an Illusion. Had you not already entered upon the 
way of UK; perfect, ah! very well; but St. Paul says that those 
who have once been enlightened and have tasted the word 


of God, avd fall, can, with difliculty, be renewed in penance. 
How can you pursuade yourself that you will be able to preserve 
yourself, in returning to the world, when even now, being out 
of it, you find so much trouble in overcoming yourself? If 3-011 
believe the contraiy, at least do not leave but by the same door 
through which you have entered the congregation: this door is 
the spiritual retreat which I beg you to mo,ke before determining 
on a separation of such importance." 

We find all these reasons, all the efforts of his charity, united 
in the following letter to a missionary, (2d Jan., 1656): 
"Reflect on these reasons: First, reflect on the graces of your 
vocation in which God puts into your hands so many means 
of perfecting your own soul and of saving others, Thou hast 
not chosen me but I have chosen you, says our Lord. But He 
will not be obliged to give you those graces in another condi 
tion to which He will not have called you. Secondly, reflect 
on the blessings it has pleased God, up to the present, to give 
to all your labors, whereby you have done n:uch good both 
within and without, and which, besides your merit before God, 
has made you esteemed, and endeared to every one. Third, 
reflect on the promise you have made to God to serve Him in 
the little Congregation; if vou fail in yonr word with God, with 

O O f 

whom will you keep : t? Fourth, reflect on these words of our 
Lord : He who does not leave father raid mother for my love 
is not worthy of me. Thank God, you have left yours to give 
yourself entirely to Him. What pretext, then, have you, at 
this hour, for abandoning Him in order to return to your 
parents? Fifth, think of the remorse you Avill have at the 
hour of death, and for what you will have to answer at the 
judgment seat of God, if, through human respect, or for a 
temporal gain, or to live more at your ease, or for all these 
together, though hidden under other pretexts, you should 
become guilty of the infidelity of which we have spoken and 
lose the opportunities you now have of advancing the glory of 
Our Master God forbid, sir, that this evil should ever happen ! 
They will tell you, perhaps, as you already have been told, that 
vou can work out your salvation anywhere. I admit; but I 
add, it is extremely difficult, not to say impossible, to save your 
.-t;oul in a place and in a state wherein God does not wish you, 


especially after having left, without cause, a true vocation such 
as you have recognized yours to be. You cannot say that you are 
wanting in the strength required for the functions of the Con 
gregation, since you know, sir, these are varied, that the labors 
of each are regulated accoiding to his talents, and that even 
those who labor the most have less anxiety than a paiish priest 
in the country who strives to do his duty well. If it be 
objected to } ou that you owe more to the souls of your relatives 
than to those of strangers, answer, without fear o f contradiction, 
that one mission, lasting for a month or three weeks, which you 
\\-\\\ pn. cine for the parish in which they live, will be of more 
advantage to them than all Unit you, living among them, could 
do during your entire life. And the reason of this is, that 
familiarity diminishes esteem and often destroys it. altogether; 
and then one is no longer capable of producing any fruit. This 
is why a person is rarely a prophet in his own country. Hence 
it is, that Our Lord returned only once to Nozareth, and then 
tin; inhabitants wished to precipitate Him from the summit of 
a rock, a treatment, He, perhaps, permitted to teach evangeli 
cal laborers the danger they incur, in returring to their homes, 
of losing the high esteem their labors have won for them, and 
of fulling into shameful disorder.?. For this reason, further, 
He did not wish to allow two of His disciples to return to their 
parents when they asked permission, the one desiring to go 
bury his lather, the other to sell his property and distribute it 
to the poor. "If you say you arc obliged to assist 3 our mother, 
that is true in only one case, which is, when .she is in need of 
the necessaries of life, and when, without your aid, site would 
be in danger of death from hunger. But, thanks be to God, 
she is well enough oft in the goods of this world, and can do 
without 3-011 in the future as in the past. For all these reasons 
I will hope, sir, that you will give yourself anew to God to 
serve Him in the congregation according to His eternal designs, 
without further thinking of your relations, save the more to 
detach yourself from them, and to recommend them to II is 
mercy; for, by this means, His Divine bounty will continue to 
bless you. and will bless, on account of you, the souls of those 
that arc dear to you. I hope and pray for this from the bottom 
of my heart" 


But if Vincent would not permit his children to leave the 
congregation and go out into the world, he willingly exhorted 
them, when on the point of death, to depart from the world and 
the congregation to go to Heaven. Here is, almost entire, 
one of his exhortations before death, admirable alike for its 
sweetness, and its sublime faith: Well, my brother, how are 
you at present! So you believe, then, that our great general, 
the first of all missionaries, our Lord, really wants you in the 
mission of Heaven ? You see He wishes that we all, each in 
his turn, go there, and this is one of the principal rules and 
constitutions He made while on earth. / trill that where lam 
there also may my minister be. My God! What consolation you 
should feel thus to be chosen among the first to go to the 
eternal mission where all the exercises consist in loving God! 
Is it not true that our great superior is graciously willing to 
give you the grace of being of the number of these happy 
missionaries? Oh. without a doubt", you should hope for it 
from His mercy and goodness, and, animated with this corifi 
dence, say to H m in all humility: Oh my Lord! whence 
comes this happiness? Alas! it is not because I have merited 
it, or wha L proportion is there between the toil of missions 
given on earth and the joy and recompense of the missionaries 
who are with Thee? It is, then, from Thy bounty and liberality 
alone, O, my Master, that I hope for it. And what! Besides 
the inequality between the labors of missions here below and 
the reward Thou givest above, I have been guilty of a number of 
sins, of infidelities, and of cowardice which render me unworthy 
of the recompense. Still, I hope in Thy infinite goodness and 
generosity that this great debt will be remitted, as was done to 
the poor debtor in the Gospel: And F e forgive, him oil the dcb% 
because Thy mercy and benevolence are infinitely greater than 
my umvorthiness and my malice. It is certain that the 
greatest glory you arc capable of rendering Him at present is 
to hope with all your heart in His goodness and His infinite 
merits, for the magnitude of the faults to be pardoned will only 
manifest the better the greatness of His mercy. He expects 
that confidence from you. so as to be forced to say to you. 
with all the affection of a father: This day thmt, wilt be with -Me 
in Paradise. Now, too, is the time to make frequent and 


ardent acts of love for your dear and good master. And all 
those beautiful acts of hope, so agreeable to God, which you 
may have made should lead you to love, for if He is so magnifi 
cent, so liberal, so good, as you hope, is it not true that you 
have great reason to cry out and say: Oh, God of my heart! 
Thy infinite goodness does not permit me to divide my affec 
tions. Oh! do Thou alone take possession of m}- heart and my 
liberty! How can I desire aught else but Thee! How attach 
myself to anything not Thee! Would it, perhaps, be to myself? 
Alas! Thou bearest me infinitely more love than I can have 
for myself. Thou art infinitely more desirous of my good and 
hast the power of doing it, than I who have nothing and hope 
for nothing but in Thee. Oh. my only God! Oh. Infinite 
Goodness! Why have I not for Thee the love of all the Sera- 
phims together! Alas! it is very late to imitate them! Oh, 
ancient Bounty, I have loved Thee too late. But, at least, I 
offer Thee with all the strength of my affection the love of the 
most ho!}- Queen of Angels, and, in general, the love of all the 
blessed. Oh my God ! in the presence of Heaven and earth I give 
Thee my heart such as it is. I adore, out of love for Thee, the 
secrets of Thy paternal Providence in regard to Thy wretched 
servant. I detest, inThy presence, and before the entire heavenly 
court, all that can separate me from Thee. Sovereign Goodness, 
Thou, Who wished to be loved by sinners, give me Thy love, and 
then command what Thou will. Give what Thou commandest 
and command ichat Thou wilt. 1 Yes, my very dear brother, it is 
true, and you must in no way doubt it, that it alwa} r s has been 
the good pleasure of God that you love Him and especially that 
you love Him at this time. It is that we might love Him that 
He created us to His own image and likeness, since we only 
love what bears a resemblance to us, if not entirely, at least in 
part. This lover of our hearts, seeing that, unfortunately, sin 
had spoiled this likeness, has wished to break through all the 
laws of nature in order to repair the damage, but so wonderfully, 
that He has not contented Himself in restoring in us His image 
and the character of His dignity, but lie has been please 1 to 
make Himself like us in clothing Himself with our humanity. 
And more, as love is infinitely inventive, after being nailed to the 
infamous gibbet of the cross, in order to gain the souls of those 


by whom He wished to be loved, foreseeing that this absence 
might bring forgctfulness and coolness to our hearts, He 
instituted the most august Sacrament of the altar, in which lie 
is as really and substantially present as in Heaven above. In 
this sacrament, He has wished to abase and annihilate Himself 
still more than in His Incarnation, and in some measure to 
make Himself more like us by being our meat and drink, 
intending, by this means, that the union and resemblance, 
produced between our bodies and nutritious substance, be 
effected between Him and men, for love can do all. and wills all. 
Thus has He willed, and fearing that men, not comprehending 
rightly this ineffable mystery and stratagem of love, would 
neglect to approach this divine sacrament He laid upon them 
the obligation of so doing under pain of incurring His eternal 
displeasure: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man you ivlll 
not hai c I fe in ?/OM. Excite yourself, then, to love Him. 
Remember that the greatest gift 3*011 can give Him is your 
heart; He asks nothing more: Son, give me thy heart. 1 If your 
thoughts suggest that it is temerity for a poor debtor and a mis 
erable slave to aspire 1o caresses and marks of affection from 
the Supreme Master, answer that it is God Who commands 3*01: 
and Who desires it. If am* diffieu^* 3 ou ma3 have felt in 
making ac ts of faith cause 3*011 pain or scruple, have recourse 
to acts of love which will please God better, and will, moreover, 
contain acts of all other interior virtues. If you have difficulty 
in forming acts of contrition, make them Ivy way of love; for 
the3* are nothing else. Do you not wish that the will of God 
be accomplished in 3*011? Do 3*011 not desire that He should 
take infinite delight in you. ? Arc you not willing that He 
should receive all the glory He expects from the sufferings lie 
permits 3*011 to endure at present! Were it in 3*0111- power to 
procure Him all the glory that He expects from all creatures, 
would vou not willingly do it? And are 3*011 not very glad of 
all the gloiy and perfection that. God has in Himself ? Do 3*011 
not detest, from the bottom of 3*011 r heart, all that is in vou 
contrary to the good pleasure of God? Do 3*011 not wish 3*011 
had loved Hiir. all your lifetime, as did the lUesscd Virgin ? 
AVell, now, entertain 3*ourself frequently with these beautiful- 
sentiments and look upon them as the lighted lamps of the wise 


virgins \vho were admitted, for that, reason, to eternal nuptials 
with the spouse. Oh, but that is a beautiful disposition iu 
which to enter with Him! And will you not leave us the hope 
that you will not forget us when you will he in Heaven among 
the little troop of missionaries who arc already there? Grant us 
the favor to kindly tell them of the confidence we have in their 
holy prayers, so that they may obtain for us the grace to perform 
our mission here below faithfullv. that thus we may belono- 


again to the mission in Heaven a mission of love that will 
endure eternally." 



Meekness is the flower and the odor of charity. Wonderful 
flower! With Vincent it sprang up and shed all its beauty upon 
an ungrateful earth. He \vas naturally choleric, being of a 
splenetic temperament, and of an active nature. Yet, by efforts 
of virtue, and with the aid of grace, he succeeded in repressing 
even the least appearance of anger, and conquered in himself its 
most secret movements. The struggle was long and obstinate. 
Whilst yet hi the house of Gondi the wife of the general of the 
galleys was distressed at his fits of meianchol} , and it was in 
1621 that he was able to say: " I addressed myself to God and 
earnestly prayed Him to change in me this dry and repulsive 
humor and give me a meek and benign spirit; and, by the grace 
of our Lord, with a little attention to sallies of nature, I have 
rid myself somewhat of my gloomy disposition." 

Once in possession of the virtue of meekness, he guarded it 
carefully, cultivated it, and faithfully practiced all its acts 
After the example of the blessed Bishop of Geneva whom he, 
fcimself. took as a mode! and recommended to others, he ever 
after presented an open address and an amiable afTabilit}- which 
tinctured all his conversations with kind and obliging words 
without, however, any shade of false flattery: he never praised 
any in their presence unless actuated by motives of the most 
elevated interest. 

His meekness excelled in reprimand and correction. On 
these occasions, he threw into his manner and his words, such 


moderation and such sweetness that he softened the hardest 
hearts and triumphed over all resistance. 

His meekness became all the more compassionate and rnoro 
tender towards sinners whose faults he loved to Irde, and, as it 
were, to bury. Never a word of complaint did he use against 
those who had abandoned him, no retaliation for their murmurs. 
Far from revealing the motives of their departure, he said of 
them all the good possible that truth would permit, and avenged" 
himself on their petty spites by all kinds of good offices. 

In the exercise of his duty as Superior, he had worn the air of 
one who had asked a favor rather than of a superior who gave 1 
his orders. Were his commands neglected, he contented himself 
with saying: Perhaps, had you done that in the manner 1 
asked you to do it, God would have blessed it." Often, even- 
when the disobedience was without thought, indirect, or of 
little import, he said nothing, bis silence and patience being the* 
only correction. 

He showed himself particularly mild towards the infirmy 
either of body, or of mind. With regard to them he never com . 
plained, never used a word that in the slightest degree conveyed 
the idea that they were a burden. He sometimes admitted to. 
the congregation, on trial, notwithstanding all representations* 
to the contrary, certain subjects who appeared as if they 
never could become suitable members; and more than once by 
his gentle care he merited that God should deliver them from 
all their ailments, and should make of them efficient mission 
aries. With still greater reason did he treat with meekness and 
patience those who already belonged to the congregation, how 
great soever their infirmities. "Have no fear," he said to- 
them, " of being a charge to the congregation; on the contrary, 
it is a blessing for it to possess infirm members, for they, by 
their sufferings, merit more than do the others by their labors." 

The least among the members of his congregation, the 
brothers, and, among the brothers, the most uncouth and the 
least useful, were the privileged objects of his mildness and 
benignity. lie called upon them in conference, no mutter. what 
their roughness, listened to them with geutlc patience, , ever 
interrupted them, but to help them, and by mingliug excuses 


a- 1 praises lie corrected them of any errors which they might 
fcave advanced. 

His meekness, so tolerant with natural defects of body, or of 
Blind, was not disconcerted even by vices of the will. He bore 
fvith intractable subjects that they might have an opportunity 
for repentance and conversion: and when there was hardly any 
fcopo of amendment he islill bore with them in order to exercise 
Limself in meekness. 

Even when overwhelmed with pressing duties his mildness 
opened, to ell, his room, his car. and his heart. He was at all 
tinus ready to listen to the lea-t of his subjects, before mass, 
during the recitation of his breviary, and even at night. Those 
troubled with scruples could .apply to him several times during 
Hie dav or hour, even when ho was engaged with persons of 
distinction, and he would ever receive them, with kindness. 
Ho would rise from his chair, go to meet them, take them into 
a corner listen to them, repeat his advice, even write it down 
for t hem and make them read it to him so as to be assured they 
tmlorstoo l; nothing wearied his sweet and gentle charity. 

And this is why Tronson, Superior General of St. Sulpicius, 
could sa}* that Vincent possessed the virtue of meekness in so 
eminent a degree, that in seeing him you imagined you saw 
St. Paul conjuring the Corinthians by the meekness and modesty 
of Jesus Christ. 


And yet the humble Saint believed himself to be without this 
meekness his reward for so many combats. And so, in 
exhorting his children to acquire it on the same conditions, he 
sail: "We sometimes see persons who seem gifted with 
remarkable meekness, and yet it is but an effect of their quiet 
disposition; they have not Christian meekness the special duty 
of which is to repress and stifle all the sallies of the contrary 
vice. Me is not chaste simply because he feels no unchaste 
movements, but because when he feels them he resists. We 
b-)\e in the house an example of true meekness; I mention it 
because the person is not present, and because you can all 
perceive that naturally he is of a sharp and arid disposition. 


It is Mr. N. And you may judge if there be, in the world, two 
men as rough and forbidding as he and I. And yet we see 
this man overcome himself to such a degree that we can lr:: v 
say he is no longer what he was: and Avluit has done this? It is 
the virtue of meekness in the acquisition of which he is strug 
gling, whereas, I, miserable, remain as sharp as a briar. I 
pray you, gentlemen, not to lix your eyes on the bad example I 
giveyou, but rather, I exhort you. to use the words of the Apostles, 
to walk worthily and with all meekness and gentleness in the 
state to which God has called yon." 

He would not have this meekness soft, nor weak and indul 
gent, but rather, full of force and firmness on account of that 
close union existing between all real virtues. For, he srid, 
" there are none more constant, or more firm in good than thje 
meek and gentle; whilst, on the contrary, those who allo\? 
themselves to be carried away by ringer and by passions of lh.2 
irascible appetite, are ordinarily very inconstant, because they 
act only in fits and starts. They are similar to torrents which 
have force and impetuosity only in their irruptions, and are 
exhausted as soon as these subside, whereas rivers, which 
represent the meek, ilow on without, tranquilly, a:iJ 
never become dry. Therefore, let us be firm in regard to the 
end we propose to ourselves in our good works, but let us 
employ meekness in the means we make use of, imitating in 
this the action of the wisdom ot God which reachcth its e/tds 
mightily and ytt ordereth t <c means mwfi y. Let us. again, 
iiritate the blessed Bishop of Geneva, the most mild and gentle 
man that I ever knew. The first time I ever saw him I 
recognized in his address, in the serenity of his countenance, 
in his manner of speech and in his conversation, a well-marked 
image of the meekness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and m\- heart 
was gained. 

Meekness is particularly necessary for persons livi;;^ in a 
community, and for those who labor for the salvation of soul-. 
The Saint said: "We have all the greater need of* affability as 
we nrc, by our vocation, more obliged to frequently converge 
with one another and with our neighbor. This intercourse is 
the more difficult whether among ourselves, because \ve ara 


either from different countries, or tire of different temperaments 

and natural dispositions, or whether with our neighbor because 

often we have much to bear with in him. It is the virtue of 

Affability which overcomes all these difficulties, and which, being 

the. soul of good conversation, makes it not only useful but also 

-agiceable; it makes us, in conversation, comport ourselves with 

propriety and with condescension for each other. And. as it 

is charity that unites us as members of one body, it is affability 

that perfects the union. 
^w - 

" Let us practice the virtue of meekness, especially with the 

,poor people in the country; otherwise, they will be discouraged 
*nil not dare to approach us, thinking us too severe, or too 
grand for them. B;it when we treat them with affability and 
cordiality they conceive different sentiments for us and become 
better disposed to profit by the good we wish to do them. 
Since God has destined us to serve them we ought to do it in 
the manner the most profitable to them, and, consequently, act 
towards them with great kindness, and take, as if addressed to 
each of in particular, the admonition of the Wise Man : Make 
thyself affable to the congregation of the poor. 

"He affable, but never flatter; for nothing is so despicable 
and unworthy a Christian soul as flattery. A man truly 
virtuous abhors nothing so much as this vice. 

"On the other hand, do not contend with any, not even with 
tha vicious whom it may be necessary to reprehend; but ever 
use in their regard sweet and courteous speech, according as 
charit}* and prudence will dictate. In our discussions with 
heretics let us not enter into altercation, or employ harshness; 
they are far more readily won by a sweet and amiable remon 
strance. This is how the angels act towards us. They inspire 
good thoughts, but do not force \>s to follow them. Experience 
has shown me that more is gained over minds in this way than in 
urging them to enter into our sentiments, and in wishing to 
triumph over them. It is usual with the malign spirit to be 
eager, and his custom is to disquiet souls. In a journey I made 
to Bsauvais I had, on one occasion, the happiness of convert 
ing three heretics, and I must say that the kindness and mild 
ness I exercised with them contributed more to their conversion 


than all the rest of the discussion. When we argue with any 
one. the manner of conduct of the dispute easily shows that wo 
want to gain the upperhand; hence, our adversary prepares for 
resistance rather than to learn the truth; so that the debate, 
instead of shedding any light on his mind, oidinarily closes the 
door of his heart; whilst, on the contrary, sweetness and affabil 
ity would open it. We have a beautiful example of this in the 
person of the blessed Francis de Sales who, though very expert 
in controvcrsj , nevertheless converted heretics rather by h s 
meekness than by his learning. And, on this point, Ilia 
Eminence, Cardinal De Perron, used to say that he could, 
indeed, convince -heretics but it belonged to the Bishop of 
Geneva to convert them. Bear well in mind the words, of St. : 
Paul to that great missionary, St. Timothy: But the servant of 
the Lord must not wrangle. And, I can assure you, I have 
never seen or heard of an} heretic who was converted by the 
power of a dispute, or by subtlety of argument ; but. indeed, yes, 
by means of meekness, so true is it, that that possesses a secret 
charm for gaining men to God." 

The Saint seemed to take a pleasure, so tireless were his 
exhortations, in reverting to the mildness and affability which 
should be exercised towards the poor; he attributed to this all 
the success he heard of the missions given by the Congregation. 
And he would take occasion, both in his instructions rnd in 
his letters, to recommend more than ever the practice of this 
virtue. He wrote in this S MISC to one of his priests accused of 
treating, in his sermons, the people with too much asperity : "If 
God, in some degree, blessed our first missions, it was remark 
ed that the reason of it was that the missionaries acted 
amir.bly, humbly, and sincerely towards all classes of 
persons; and it it has pleased God to make use of the most 
miserable of all in the conversion of some heretics these, have 
themselves acknowledged that it was the patience and cordiality 
he exhibited that gained them. The galley slaves even, with 
whom I have been, are gained in no other way. Whenever J 
happened to speak with severity I spoiled all. On the contrary, 
when I praised them for their resignation, when I pitied them 
in their sufferings, when I told them they were happy to have 
their purgatory in this life, when I kissed their chains, condol- 


eel with thorn in their grief and manifested sorrow for their 
disgrace, then they listened to me, I lien they gave glory to God 
an 1 became reconciled to Him. I beg you, sir, to unite with 
me in gi -ing thanks to God for this and ask Him to be pleased 
to inspire all the missionaries to treat their neighbors, both in 
public and in private, kindly, humbly, and charitably, and even 
sinners, and the most obdurate, never employing against any 
fnvcctive, or reproach, or harshness. I have no doubt, sir, but 
that you try to avoid this unfortunate manner of serving souls 
which, insiead of attracting, em I litters and alienates. Our 
Lord Jesus Christ is the Eternal Meekness both of angels and 
of men, an 1, by this virtue, we .should, in conducting others, go 
to Him " 

He recommended meekness towards the poor, and also 
towards sinners. "We must not be astonished." said the 
Saint, " to see others commit faults, because, as it is natural 
fir briars and thistles to bear thorns, so, in the state of corrupt 
nature, it is natural for man to fall, since he is conceived and 
born in sin, and since the just man, according to Solomon, falls 
seven that is, several times a day. The spirit of man has its 
Inequalities and maladies as well as the body; instead, then, of 
being troubled and discouraged, we should, in view of its 
miserable condition, be humbled, and say with David, after his 
fall: It is good for me that Thou hast humblud me, that I 
may learn Thy justifications. We mu>t bear with ourselves in 
our weaknesses and. in the meanwhile, labor to surmount them. 
\Ve must, moreover, boar v.idi others, and charitably cover 
tlieir defects; for if it be forbid !en to judge ill of another, it is 
still lawful to speak ill of him, the peculiarity of charity 
being, as the Apostle says, to cover a multitude of sins. 
Hear the Wise Man. once more: Hast thou heard a word 
against thy neighbor? Let it die within thec." 

He would have meekness exercised even with those who 
seemed the most unworthy of it. for example, the priest and 
religious, who. enslaved in Tunis and Algiers, fell into the 
in >*t shameful license.- lie wrote 10 one of his priests who 
performed the duties of grand vicar: " You should never allow 
yourself to become incensed against abuses since you foresee 


only that a greater evil will follow. Draw what good you can 
out of the priests and religious who are slaves .... by 
rnild and easy ways, and employ severe measures only in ex 
tremity, for fear the evils they endure, by reason of their captivity, 
joined to the rigor which you, in your authorit\ r , would wish to 
exercise, might lead them to despair. It is impossible to ful 
fill the duties of your charge in all the rigor of full justice with 
out augmenting the trials of these poor people and exhausting 
their patience, and injuring yourself. You should not, 
especially, undertake to immediately abolish certain customs 
in vogue among them, even though they be bad. Somebody 
brought, the other day, to my attention a beautiful passage 
from St. Augustine, wherein he says, one should be particularlv 
careful in attacking an abuse that reigns in a place, because he 
will not only not succeed, but, on the contrary, will alienate 
those in whom the custom is, as it were, ingrained, so that he 
will thus deprive himself of the power of doing other good 
which he might have done, had he taken them differently. I 
beg you, then, to condescend to human infirmity as much as 
you can. You will gain, in compassionating them, the 
ecclesiastics who aie slaves, far sooner than by reproof and 
correction. They are not wanting in light, but in fortitude, 
which is insinuated by the external unction of word and ex 
ample. I do not say you should authorize or permit their dis- 
oiclcrs, but I do say the remedy should be rnild and kind 
mid applied with great precaution." 

Again, meekness should accompany conviction, which the 
Saint has recommended in so many of his letters. When com 
plaint was made of another, he invariably answered: "If ho 
did not have these faults he would, in all probability, have 
others, and had you nothing to suffer, your charity would have 
but little exercise, and your life not sufficient relation with that 
of Jesus Christ, Who has been pleased to have for disciples 
men who were coarse and vulgar, and subject to different 
failings, simply in order to hrve the opportunity, by practicing 
meekness and forbearance, to show us, by His example, how 
those who have charge of others should act. I pray you, sir, 
regulate yourself according to this Holy Model; He will teach 
you not only how to bear with your ccmfi-eren, but also how to 


aid them to become rid of their imperfections, You must not, 
through a too weak toleration, neglect the evil, but you must 
likewise use meekness in remedying it." 

To a second -superior, engaged, with another of the 
ConTe" p a 1 iou, in a distant mission, he wrote: (t lf vou only 

v? ~ ** 

have cordiality and forbearance between you two I have hopes 
in the goodness of God that He will bless your works; and 1 beg 
of you sir, in the name of God, lot that be your constant prac 
tice. And, because you are at the same time the older and 
the superior, bear with all, in the spirit of meekness, from him 
who is with } ou ; I say all, so that laying aside within yourself 
all authority, you may, in the spirit of charity, accommodate 
yourself to him. This is the means by which our Lord gained 
and perfected His apostles, and it is the only m ans when-by 
you can succeed with this good priest. Therefore, give a little 
play to his humor, never contradict just at the moment you 
think there is occasion, but wait, till sometime after, to remon 
strate with him, and then do so humbly and cordially. Partic 
ularly, so conduct yourself than no division between you and 
him will ever become apparent; for you are there as on a stage 
exposed to the eyes of all classes, and with whom one single act 
of bitterness, noticed in you, would spoil all. 1 hope you will 
receive and make use of this advice I giA-e you, and that God 
will make the million acts of virtue you will perform the base 
and foundation of the good He wishes you to do." 

Here, again, the Saint collects, in his particular conferences, 
all tbese scattered teachings on the nature, the excellency and 
the practice of meekness: "Meekness and humility." he said 
ono da\ , "are twin sisters that agree admirably. We have a 
rule that requires us to study them very carefully in Jesms 
Christ, who says to us: Learn of Me because I am meek and 
humble of heart. 

Meekness has several acts which may be reduced to three 
principal ones. The first of these acts has two b-anches one 
of which is to repress all movements of anger, all the flashes of 
that fire which mounts to the face, which troubles the soul, 
which transforms oae so as to 1 e no longer capable of recogni 
tion, and changes the calm and serene countenance into 


one dark and lowering, or glowing and inflamed. And what 
does meekness do? It arrests this change; it hinders him, who 
is affected, from manifesting these evil effects. It does not, 
uowever, prevent the movements of the passion, but it sets 
itself as a barrier, so that the passion cannot carry all before it. 
Some commotion may show itself in the countenance, but it 
soon subsides. Besides, we should not be surprised to see 
ourselves combated: the movements of nature are quicker than 
those of grace, but the latter vanquish. We must not be 
astonished at assaults, but we should rather demand grace to 
overcome them, being certain thai, though we feel within us a 
certain revolt against it. j et meekness has the power to sup 
press it. This, then, is the first duty of the first act, and it is 
marvellously beautiful, so beautiful, in fact, that it restrains 
the ugliness of the opposite vice from manifesting itself; it is a 
certain activity in the mind and soul that not only moderates 
the ardor of anger, but even extinguishes its least sparks. 

" The second duty of this first act consists in this, that, it 
being, at times, expedient to manifest displeasure, to reprehend, 
to punish, it governs those in whom tlu virtue of meekness 
resides so that they do these, not from an impulse of nature, 
but from duty, just as the Son of God who called St. Peter. 
Satan, and Who said to the Jews, not once, but several times: 
Go, hypocrites/ this word being found ten or twelve times in a 
single chapter. Again, lie drove the sellers from the temple, 
overturned their tables, andexhibited other signs of displeasure. 
Were these the transports of anger? No, Kc possessed meek 
ness in a supreme degree. In us this virtue renders us masters 
of our passion, but in our Lord, Who had only propassions, it 
merely, according as it was expedient, advanced or retarded 
any manifestation of anger. If then, He. Who was mild 
and kind, showed Himself severe on certain occasions it was to 
correct those to whom He spoke, it was to drive out sin. to 
take away scandal; it was to edify souls, and to give us a lesson 
Oh, what great fruit a superior would produce did he act after 
this manner! His admonitions and corrections would be well 
received, because reason, and not caprice or humor, would 
govern them. While reprimanding strongly, he would not 
allow his passion to overmaster him, but would look to the 


good of the person admonished. As our Lord should bo our 
model in every condition of life, those who govern others ou^iit 
to consider how He acted and order themselves accordingly. 
Xo\v He governed through love: and if He, at times, promised 
recompense, at others. He threatened chastisements: we must 
doin like manner, but, always be actuated by the principle of love. 
\Ve, then, will be in the disposition in which the prophet 
desired God to be when he said: Oh, Lord, rebuke mo not 
in Thy indignation. It seemed to tiiis poor king that God was 
in anger with him, and, therefore, he prays Him not to punish him 
in His ftiry. All m >:i are, in this, of like mind; none wish to 
to be corrected in angor. It is a favor accorded to but feu- not 
to feel the first emotions. as I have said; but the meek man soon 
recovers, he masters his anger and his vengeance, so that noth 
ing follows save v, hat is influenced by love. This, then, is \\\a 
first act of meekness, to repress the contrary emotion-; as soon 
as they are felt, by either subduing anger altogether, or, i:i 
the necessity, so using it that meekness may still govern. 
Therefore, gentlemen, now that we are speaking 01 meekness, 
let us all resolve that, in all provocations to anger, we wiii rut 
short our inclinations, recollect om\selvcs, and raise our m mis 
to God, saying to Him: Oh Tliou, Who, seest me nssaihd i>v 
this temptation, deliver me from the evil it suggests. 

* The second act of meekness is to show ourselves aflabie, 
coi dial, and calm of countenance, so as to reassure and j h-aso 
those who accost us. This is why some with a cheerful and 
agreeable manner of address please everybody, God having 
endowed them with this grace whereby they seem to oiler you 
their heart, and to request yours in return. Whereas. tii.. re 
are others, just as I am, who are rough, that present themselves 
with forbidding mien and contracted brow, who arcgloo.ny ;\;;d 
repelling; all this is opposed to meekness. Hence, a true 
missionary would do well to nud<e himself affable, and study to 
acquire a cordial amiable maun- r that he may. by tlics;; 
external marks of the kindness within;- inspire 1 corfidence ;n:d 
assurance. You know, according to the word of our Lord. !:-./ 
this s\veet insinuation gains and attracts all hearts: For //rt 
meek x l if j> i&efft i i" 1 -nrl ; and, on the contrary, how it ha< b V;i 
remarked of persons of condition who ai;e in o!Iic.\ that 


thev arc too grave and reserved every one fears and avoids 

" And as our duties bring us in contact with the poor people 
of the country, \vith those preparing for orders, with those 
making the exercises of spiritual retreat, and with all classes 
of people, it is impossible for us to do any good if we be as 
barren soil producing nothing but thistles. We must possess 
some attraction, and have a pleasant countenance so as not to 
discourage or embarrass any one. 

I \va.s consoled, three or four days ago. in witnessing the 
joy a certain person who was leaving manifested. He was 
delighted, he remarked, because he found here a pleasing 
manner, an openness of heart, and a certain charming simplic 
ity (these are his words) that had deeply touched him. 

O, my Savior, how happy were those who approached Thee! 
What a countenance! What mildness ! With what cordiality 
didst Thou not draw them! With what confidence didst Thou 
not inspire them to come to Thee! Oh, what marks of love! 
St. Andrew was the first captivated, and through him, St. Peter, 
and then all the others. Oh, my Savior! he who has this loving- 
manner, this charming benignity, oh, what fruit will he not 
produce in Thy Church! Sinners and the just will crowd to 
him. the first to become reconciled to God, the second to be 
encouraged in good. Isaias said of our Lord that His nourish 
ment would be butter and honey, to show us the meekness that 
would be given Him in order to know good and evil. Those 
souls only, that possess meekness, can discern things; for anger 
being a passion that troubles the reason, ii must follow that 
the opposite virtue gives discernment. Oh, mild Savior, give 
us this virtue ! 

u The th .rd act of meekness consists in not dwelling on any 
displeasure we may have received from any one. and in mani- 
festi n no resentment, saying in excuse: He did not think, 
he acted hastily, or i-.npulse carried him away; and, finally, in 
aver! incr our "houghts from the imagined injury When disa 
greeable things are .said to a meek man in order to exasperate 
him. he never opens his mouth in answer, he pretends not to 


li Meekness not only excuses the affronts and injustices done 
us, but it moreover acts mildly towards those who are guilty 
and has a kind word for them; even should the outrage so as 

O O 

far as blows, it suffers it for God s sake. Oh! if the Son of 
God appeared so kind in His conversation, how much more 
striking was His meekness in His passion! It went to such a 
degree that it did not permit a single hasty word to escape His 
lips against the cleicides who covered Him with insult and spat 
in His face, and who mocked at His sorrow. My friend/ He 
says to Judas, who delivers Him to His enemies. Oh! what a 
friend! He meets him with that endearing title my friend. 
He acts towards all the others with similar kindness Whom 
seek ye, he says to them, behold I am He. Let us meditate 
on these prodigious acts of meekness acts that surpass human 
understanding. Consider how He maintains that mildness amid 
the most terrible tortures of His crucifixion. Oh, my Jesus! 
what an example for us who have undertaken to imitate Thee! 
After all this, ought we not to love this virtue of meekness, 
by which God not on y gives us the graces to repress all move 
ments of anger, to act kindly with our neighbor and return 
good for evil, but also the grace to suffer peaceably all the 
afflictions, all the injuries, all the torments, find even death 
itself, that men can inflict. Grant us, O, my Savior, the grace 
to orofit by the pains Thou hast endured with so much love and 
meekness! Many, through Thy mercy, have profited, and 
perhaps I jim the only one here who has not yet begun to be 
both meek and patient." 

In another conference, St. Vincent de Paul, with that posi 
tive sense which he carried into the highest spirituality, reduced 
to still more precise counsels the practice of this virtue of 

in the first place." he said, " in order not to be surprised 
by the occasions wherein we may fail in meekness we should 
foresee these occasions, and represent to ourselves whatever 
may, probably, excite ou: anger, and then form, in advance, in 
our own minds, the acts of meekness we propose to practice on 
rdl occasions. 

" Secondly, we must detest the vice of anger, in as much as 


it displeases God, without, however, becoming indignant or 
provoked with ourselves, because we perceive ourselves still 
subject to it; for we must hate this vice, and love jts contrary 
virtue, not because we have aversion for the one, and take 
delight in the other, but solely out of love for God whom the 
virtue pleases and the vice offends. If we do this the sorrow 
we conceive for faults committed against this virtue will be 
calm and sweet. 

Thirdly, when we perceive ourselves being moved to anger 
we should strive to refrain from acting, or even speaking, and 
especially we should come to no determination, until the emo 
tion is quieted, because actions done in such agitation, not being 
i ully directed by reason which is troubled and obscured by 
passion, though otherwise they appear good, yet can never be 


" In the fourth place, during this enotion we should make 
an effort to prevent any sign of it appearing in the countenance 
which is the mirror of the soul, but we should restrain it and 
reform it by Christian meekness. This is not contrary to sim 
plicity, because we do it. not to appear different from what we 
are, but from a sincere desire that the virtue of meekness, 
which is in the superior part of the soul, may show itself in onr 
features, in onr language, and in our exterior actions, in order 
to please God, and our neighbor for the love of God. 

In the fifth place, finally, we must, during these move- 
incuts, endeavor to restrain our tongues, and notwithstanding 
all the transpo;ts of anger and the ardor of zeal we may imagine 
w-> have, not utter any but kind and pleasant words that thus we 
may gain others to God. Oftentimes, it requires but one kind 
word to convert the most obdurate, whereas, on the contrary, 
a rough and hasty word may grieve a soul and occasion a bitter 
ness extremely dangerous. I employed, but three times in my 
life, words of harshness in reprimanding and correcting others, 
thinking I had just cause for so doing, and I have ever since 
repented of it, because I did not succeed, and because I per 
ceived, on the contrary, that I always obtained by means of 
meekness whatever I desired." 



We now come lo the fundamental virtue of St. Vincent dc 
Paul, the virtue of humility, a virtue which no saint,, after 
Him to whom nothing is comparable, after Him, who, being in 
the form of Clod, lias annihilated Himself and taken upon Him 
self the form of a slave, after her who lias extracted from her 
lowliness the principle of her greatness. a virtue. I say. which 
no saint has possessed in the same degree as St. Vincent. His 
was a prodigious humility which astounds not only our pride, 
but even our intelligence, when we see this admirable man lower 
himself beneath earth and hell; when we see him prefer to 
himself the n ost perverse, the galley-slave, those condemned to 
death, and even the demons! And yet a humility that alone 
explains St. Vincent do Paul, which alone, by the incessant 
self-sacrifice of himself it impressed upon him, explains his 
charity, a<* prodigious as itself. He was the most charitable of 
men o::ly because he was the most humble. Some have said it 
was an excessive humility, Hut no, if the Saint exceeded in 
the goou opinion he had of others and exaggerated their praises 
he did not do so from the low esteem he had of himself. In 
comparison with the demon and with the greatest sinners, 
beneath whom Le loved to debase himself, he did not, surely, 
put himself in their place; but what, in comparison with God, 
with His grandeur, and with His sanctity arc the greatest and 
most holy on earth but baseness and imperfection? It is this 
truer and more profound sentiment in regard to God that has 



made the saints, though relatively greater, more humble than 
other men, and honee more charitable and more devoted. 

It has been said: -Were clemency to be exiled from earth it 
ought to find a refuge in the hearts of kings." This is the word 
the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld applied to the humility of 
St Vincent de Paul. It is not enough to say that humility was 
his virtue, it was in some sort his very passion. Never did 
ambition thirst lor honor, voluptuousness lor pleasure, as did 
Vincent for contempt and humiliation. 

Not only did he never say anything of himself, but he tried 
his utmost to destroy all the honorable recollections of his life. 
How he worked to destroy the letter that has remained as a 
monument of his captivity in Tunis! That letter, in 1058, had 
been found among family papers and transmitted to the canon 
Saint-Martin. The latter thinking to give him pleasure in 
leading back his old age to youthful years immediately sent a 
copy of the letter to St. Vincent, But Saint-Martin, himself, 
notwithstanding hi* long intercourse with Vincent, had not yet 
sounded the depths of a humility that only sought in these 
recollections of the past new humiliations, only sought a means 
to draw down upon him the contempt of men. At the sight of 
that witness to his glorious slavery Vincent blushed, and 
hastened to commit it to the flames. But it was only a copy, 
and theorignal still remained in stronger hand.*, and might be 
adduced against him should he, according to his custom. 

O . 

publish and exaggerate his miseries and Ms nothingness. He, 
therefore, wrote to Saint Martin imploring him to send the 
original letter. But the Canon was on the aleit, and pcnetrat- 
ino- the thought of his humble friend, he was in no hurry to 

O O 

obey his request. For more than a year Vincent continued his 
entreaties, and on March l*th. 1(5(50. six mouths before his 
death, he wrote to Saint Maitin employing these strong and 
pressing terms: " I conjure you. by all the graces it has pleased 
God to bestow upon you. to do me the favor of sending me 
that wretched letter which makes mention of Turkey. I be 
seech you, moreover, by the bowels of our Lord .Jesus Christ, to 
grant my request as soon as possible." 

Never was more sacred language used in imploring life. 


For Vincent thorc was question of far more; there was question 
of not leaving behind him an authentic testimony, written and 
signed by his own hand, that was a title of honor. And time- 
pressed, for he felt himself dying; hence, his urgent prayer. 

Still more; during the entire course of his life, he spoke but 
once of his slavery, and that only when it was still fresh in his 
memory, and, moreover in confidence to a single priest whom, 
perhaps, he had need to prepare for the holy ministry in those 
barbarous regions. Further than this he maintained an 
absolute silence on this subject. Twenty times in meetings 
for charitable purposes had he (lie opportunity to entertain 
his audience with its story ; twenty times did he remain silent. 
And yet, what motives would any humility, but his, have 
found (o excuse, to justify the recital! For instance, the 
need to arouse pity in behalf of the unfortunate slaves by 
relating, not the sufferings of hearsay, but personal sufferings, 
tortures endured by himself, placing himself on the scene in av 
dramatic picture, and even showing, after the manner of 
ancient eloquence, the trace of the iron still imprinted on his 
members. He alone did not believe that the most exact 
ing charity could require such a sacrifice from humility. 
And more astonishing still ; his captivity at Tunis, despite all 
his efforts, was known, but not the details, and the subject was 
often broached in his presence. A secretary of the king", 
particularly, named John Baptist Danlier, who had been a 
slave at Tunis, strove many a time by the recital of his own 
adventures to entice Vincent to recount his. Vain efforts! 
Vincent listened to tha description of the cities of Barbary, as 
if the country were entirely new to him, heard all the recitals 
of sufferings in slavery without, rejoining that he had endured 
them all, and never yielded to the temptations to speak of 
himself so natural to travelers, and especially to those who 
have encountered strange adventures. 

A worker of the greatest things he considered himself in- 

o o 

capable of the lea,-t, looked upon himself as more apt to 
destroy than to build up in the Church of God. Hence, his 
con empt and his diffidence of himself; his fear of intruding- 
himself into any undertaking unless he was, as it were, thrust 


into it by the hand of God. He would have preferred that 
good were done by others rather than by himself. Obliged to 
act. he, at least, awaited some external impulse wheiein he 
saw (lie will of Heaven, to which, from th at time forth, he 
referred all the honor and glory of the work. He Trould say: 
" It is God Who has done all without my having even thought 
of it; I count in the work only by my sins which hare fettered 
the action of God." 

For he strove to hide all special graces that God gave him, 
and all personal action in his enterprises. Charity alone could 
do violence to his humility and induce him to disclose what 
was of a nature to turn to his credit. Moreover, he invariably 
guided himself by this maxim: "If when doing a public 
action I find I can enhance it, I will refrain from doing so, 
but. on (he contrary, will retrench whatever may give it any 
renown or myself any reputation. Of two thoughts that 
arise, when speaking on any subject, when charity does not 
otherwise demand, 1 will give expression to the less fine for 
the sake of humility, and retain the more beautiful to sacri 
fice it to God in the secret of my heart. For our Lord id 
pleased only with humility of heart and simplicity in word 
and action. 

Even when obliged to speak of the works which God did by 
his means, or of the blessings that attended his action, he 
found means to disengage and withdraw his personality. He 
attributed all to the congregation, or united himself with it 
in the plural in regard io everything honorable ; but he did 
not forget to speak in the first person in all humiliating 
formulas and when reciting ill success jealous to reserve 
for himself alone whatever could occasion any abasement or 
mortification. To God and to others he attributed the praise 
for all the good done in the congregation ; to himself alone, to 
his coarseness, to his sins, the responsibility for all the evil 
that might happen. 

For. if ho were silent concerning his merits, if he carefully 
concealed his gifts, he revealed with eagerness his smallest 
imperfections which his humility magnified into abominable 
crimes, and he spoke with holy intemperance of all that, 


either in his birth, his person or his conduct could bring upon 
him. disregard and contempt. Hardly arrived in Paris, 
and avoiding publicity with the same ardor others seek it, and 
dreading to be considered of noble, as others fear to be accounted 
of plebeian, birth, he retained, after the manner of servants, 
only his baptismal name and caused himself to be called simply 
Mr. Vincent. And when in public and in legal documents he 
was obliged to sign his name in full lie took care to write t he- 
two parts for fear (he separation would give rise to a suspicion 
of nobility. 

Me took pleasure in relating on all occasions his lowly ex 
traction and the humble duties of his childhood. The bishop of 
Saint-Pons during a visit lie made to St. Lazarus accidentally 
spoke of the Castle of Montgaillard from which his family 
took its name : - Oh, I know it well, interrupted Vincent, "in 
my you ih I often led my animals in that direction." - I have 
the honor of being a relation of yours, " a young man of 
good family wrote him from Dax, in asking his influence 
" I will do for you what I would do for my brother, wrote the 
humble priest in answer, "but do not claim a relationship 
with a man whose father was but a poor peasant and whose own 
first occupation was tending swine. lie us<xl the same 
language with the little as with the great. One day a poor 
woman who thought to obtain his favor, said: "My lord, an 
alms" "Oh, my poor good woman" rejoined the Saint, "you 
know me very little, for I am only the fon of a poor villager." 
"You make a mistake, my good woman/ he said to another 
who prcrcnded she had been the servant of Madam his 
mother, " my mother, having to do her own work, never had a 
servant Tor she was the wife, as I am the son, of a p^or 
peasant." Not content witli thus publishing his low origin, 
at the oourfc and in the city, in public and in private, he pro 
claimed it in other lands and sought in it a new motive for 
L; latitude for favors rendered either himself or his congrega 
tion, or found in it a iviuge against tin- praise his virtue call 
ed forth: -"What, I ask, can you find praiseworthy in one in 
whom everything is wanting and whose father was but a poor 
tanner?" Thus he wrote to Count Obidos who had befriend- 

m MII.ITV. 185 

ed one of his priests cast on the const; of Portugal, and!who, 
in one o! his letters, hr.d testified a profound respect for his 
own person. To all, to the rich and the poor, he loved to 
make known his lowly birth ; to the poor particularly, that 
they might look upon him as having been once in their con 
ditions. Thus, one day, a villager having come to St. Lazarus 
to speak with him and the porter answering that he was just 
then engaged with some lords, the man broke out: "He is, 
then, no longer Mr. Vincent, for he himself told me that he 
was like myself only the son o! a simple peasant." 

In thc-e humble avowals none will see that hypocritical 
-calculation that recalls with complacency humble beginnings 
so as to force a comparison with present eminence and laud 
the merit that attained to it. With Vincent it was simply a 
.craving and a passion for humiliation. And, at rimes, he feH 
a scruple when that passion satisfied fllk-d his soul with joy. 
In 1C33, he wrote to one of his priests: " I experienced a con 
solation a few days back when preaching to a community in 
declaring that I was the son of a poor peasant; and in a 
worthy community, that I once guarded swine. Would you 
really believe, sir, that I fear entertaining a vain satisfaction 
in witnessing the pain nature suffers in this?" Admirable 
remorse for being happy in humiliation and suffering the 
delights of the Love to be unknown and accounted for nofli- 
imj ! 

Jn 1023, when he still resided in the College Bons-Enfants 
his humility was put to a test from which it came out 
gloriously victorious. He was in his room when the porter came 
to announce to him that there was a young peasant, not over 
well-dressed and claiming to be his nephew, who Avished to 
speak with him. Fatal fermentation of pride even in the most 
humble ! Vincent, himself, at first turned red and begged one 
of the priests to go and receive the young man. But he soon 
blushed for having blushed, and going down himself he 
went as far as the street Avhere his nepheAV had remained, 
embraced him tenderly, took him by the hand and brought 
him into the college yard. Then he summoned all the priests 
,of his congregation, and presenting them the confused peasant, 


said: "Gentlemen, this young man is the most creditable ot 
my family." "Nephew," he added turning to the young man, 
"salute these <rentlemen." And during the entire day he 

*_ O J 

presented him in his provincial costume as an important 
person to all the visitors of rank that camo to see him. But 
remorse for the movement of false shame rankled in his heart. 
It was a necessity for him to discharge it at the first retreat 
he made in common with his children. "Gentlemen and my 
brothers," he said publicly, "pray for a proud individual 
who wished to receive his nephew secretly in his room, because 
he was a peasant and poorly clad." 

This visit of his nephew recalls an incident of his childhood 
which he related in his old age to the wife of the President cle 
Lamoignon. One day, when on a pilrimage,in her company) 
to 8t. Fiacre, in the environs of Meaux and about eiffht 


leagues from Paris, the conversation turned on the saint they 
were going to venerate. Said Vincent: "He was a very 
humble man and I am full of pride and sin. I remember 
that, whilst at college, I- was told one day, that my father, 
who was a poor countryman, had come to see me ; I refused to 
go to speak to him and in doing so I committed a great sin." 
" It is the greatest I believe," added the lady in relating it, 
" that he committed in all his life." Wonderful virtue of 
this old man who, at that period, was renowned for his repu 
tation for holiness and for his position ; it found means to 
perform a double act of humility at the same time, in confess 
ing a fault of his youth and in recalling his low birth! 

Moreover, his humility would never permit him to make 
any effort to raise any of his relations from their poor and 
mean condition. "They are happy in their condition as 
peas.ints one of the most innocent, and safest for salvation." 
Such Avas his invariable answer to all requests. Still less 
would he consent to introduce any of his nephews into the 
Church, to give them a share in the riches of the sanctuary. 
Such eacriliiieous intrusion was particularly distasteful to his 
virtue. " Peasants in preference to beneficiaries," he an 
swered to the solicitations of all, even of the pious and of 
bishopo. In relation to this he wrote to the Abbe St. Martin, 


one of his oldest friends: u I thank you for the care you take 
of my little nephew. I must tell you,ihough, that I never de 
sired that he be a priest and still less did I have the thought of 
educating him for this object the priesthood being the most 
sublime state on earth, and the one our Lord has wished to 
assume and exercise. As for me, had I known, when I had 
the temerity of entering it, what it is, as afterwards I knew, I. 
would have much pn-terred to till the earth than to engage in 
so formidable a srate. I have said the same more than a 
"hundred times to the poor people in the country, when, 
wishing to encourage them to remain content with their state 
in liie I told them I considered them happy in their condition." 

This admirable letter explained the formula adopted by him 
in his correspondence. Preserving his title of superior for all 
public acfs, his qualification in all else was but unworthy 

Notwithstanding his long theological studies, his diplomas 
of Bachelor in Theology and Licentiate in Canon Law, 
notwithstanding his extensive learning, his penetrating 
intellect, his infallible good sense, ho spoke only of his 
stupidity, of his ignorance, calling himself but a poor scholar 
of the fourth form, signifying thereby that he had finished 
because unable to complete his studies, "You are but an 
ignorant pei-son," the proud St.Cyran told him one day, " and 
far from deserving to be at the hond of your congregation you 
merit to be driven from it, and what surprises me is that you 
arc suffered to remain in it." "Ah, sir," answered the 
humble saint, " I am still more surprised than you, for I am 
far more ignorant than you can imagine, and, were justice 
done, I would be immediately sent away from St. Lazarus." 

One day, after repeated consolation and counsels to a 
voung student assailed with a temptation to despair, he added : 
" Should the devil still suggest that evil thought, answer as I 
have directed, and tell the miserable tempter that it is Vincent, 
an ignorant man, only of the fourth form, who has told you 

On another occasion, in reference to a superior whose 
manner, it was claimed, was not sufficiently nrbaiu- i or his 


position, lie answered among other things: "And I, how am 
I made? And how is it I have, up to the present, been 
suffered in niy office. I who am the most rude, the most 
ridiculous, and the most stupid of all when in the company of 
persons of rank, whore I do not know how to answer six 
consecutive words without manifesting my want of intelligence 
and judgment ; and what is still worse I have none of the 
virtues of the person named." 

We sea he delighted to belittle himself in his virtue as in 
his birth and natural qualities. Answering Marie Henrietta 
de ftochechouarf, Superioress :f cue of the houses of the 
Visitation in Paris, who had recommended herself to his 
prayers, he said : I will offer you to God since you request 
it, but T, more than any person in the world, hare need of the 
aid of good souls, on account of the immense miseries that 
weigh me down, and which force mo to look upon the good 
opinion others have of me as a punishment for my hypocrisy 
a hypocrisy that makes me other than I am." 

To a prelate that had called him a perfect Christian, he re 
plied : "Oh, what are you saying? I, a perfect Christian! I should 
be looked upon as one already damned, as one of the greatest 
sinners in the world." 

To a young missionary, lately received into the community, 
who accused himself of having so little profited by the good 
example and the wonders of his life, he said: "Sir, we have 
among us a practice of never praising any one in his presence. 
It is true I am a wonder, but :i wonder o! malice more wicked 
than the demon who has not so justly deserved hell as I : I 
say this not, through exaggeration but according to my real 

An author wished to dedicate a hook to him. He answered : 
" What do you tell me, sir! Had you only reflected that I am 
the sou of a poor peasant you would never have given me this 
cause for confusion nor done such injury to your book as to 
place on its title page the name of a poor priest whose only 
claims to publicity are his wretchedness and his sins. 

To another author, with similar intent, he said : You 
will extremely disoblige me should you really do as you say. 


A dedication is made in praise of those to whom it is addressed, 
and I am altogether unworthy of praise. To speak of me 
properly you must say that I am the son of a peasant, that I 
herded swine and cattle in my youth, and to this you must 
add that that bears no comparison with my ignorance and 
wickedness. Judge from this, sir,if so pitiable a person as I am 
should be publicly named in the way you propose. It would 
be to me the greatest possible annoyance. Yes, sir, I would 
feel it so much that I know not whether I could ever forget it." 

All his letters arc full of like professions of humility. "I 
am confused," he wrote to the Baroness de Kent) , " that you 
should address a poor priest like me, since you are unaware 
either of my shallowncss of mind or my wretchedness." 

lie wrote to the Superioress of the Visitation in Warsaw : 
"For more than thirty years I have had the honor of serving 
your houses in Paris. Bui, alas! my dear Mother, I am none 
the better for that, though, at the sight of those incomparably 
holy souls I should have mads* great progress in virtue. I 
humbly beseech you to aid me in asking pardon of God for 
the bad use I have made of all His graces. 

And he wrote again: "The flattering way in which you 
speak of me afflicts me very much. I see myself far removed 
from the state in which you suppose me to be. On the 
contrary, unless God take pity on me, I see myself on the 
path that leads tn the abyss beneath ; for I am most useless, 
most wretched, and I require all the mercy of God, I beg you 
to ask it for me." 

In tht assemblies of piety, the meetings of the Ladies of 
Charity as in the ecclesiastical conferences, humility often 
enforced silence o;i him, or made him abandon the idea, he- 
had already begun to develop to take up that of others. 

A lady, one day, remarked this and mildly reproached him 
with it. "Why," said she, do you not maintain your 
opinion more strongly since it always is the best?" "May 
God forbid, madam," he rejoined,. (% that my poor thoughts 
should prevail over those of others ! I am indeed well pleased 
that God do His work without me I who am but a wretch." 

But it is in the council of conscience, that is to say, at the 


summit of honor, that his humility sends forth its brightest rays. 
It w;is for the humble priest the access to court and r<ink. 
It brought homage from the ambitious. It was a certain con 
trolling power over the affairs and the wealth of the Church 
of France. Judge of his grief at his appointment and of the 
efforts he made to rid himself of such an honor! He wrote 
immediately to Rome: "I never more deserved compassion 
than now, nor had more need of prayers than at present in 
my new office I hope it will not be for long. Pray to God for 

This hope sustained him for more than a year. " I pray to 
God every day" he said to one of his priests, " that I may be 
considered the simpleton that I am, so that I may not be em 
ployed in that kind of commission and may have more oppor 
tunity of doing penance for my sins." In truth, he prayed 
to both God and man. From the day of his appointment he 
never said Mass without asking the grace to be restored to his 
former condition. He continually importuned the Queen, the 
cardinal and all others from whom he could expect this novel 
kind of protection. Towards the end of lG44,it seemed as if his 
prayers were hoard ; on th- a occasion of a journey he was 
obliged to make the rumor run that he was in disgrace. An 
ecclesiastic, informed of the falsehood of the report, came to 
compliment him. -Oh, my God, would it were (rue!" he ex 
claimed, raising his eyes to Heaven and striking his breast, 
but so miserable a creature as I am docs not deserve such a 
favor." On the fourth of January, 1045, in similiar strains to 
Mr. Codving, his superior in Rome: "God be praised for what 
you say ! Ir is true there was an appearance that I would be no 
longer tolerated in that office; but my sius have effected 

O / 

otherwise and have caused God not, to accept the sacrifices [ 
have offered Him for His purpose. In the name of the Lord 
I place my trust and I will not be confounded." 

He went to court in the same equipage that brought him to 
his missions in the country and wearing the cassock which 
may be still seen, a cassock of coarse stuff, threadbare, and 
patched. He never would change it, not even when he went 
to the Louvre, If u new one were put in his room he took the 


old one, and when he could not find that,he looked out for one 
like it on the back of some one of his priests who was nearly 
his size and, under one pretext or another privately effected 
a change. His dress, though poor, was neat and clean. His 
answer to compliment or banter on the subject was : " Stainless 
and without rent." lie thus replied to Mazarin who, one day, 
taking hold of his poor cincture showed it to the Queen, 
saying: -See, Madame, how Mr. Vincent comes dressed 
to court, and look at his beautiful cincture." This cleanli 
ness he believed conciliated his obligation to propriety with his 
habit of poverty and simplicity. The brilliancy of the Louvre 
did not d;izzle him and when the mirrors reflected back his 
image, he cried out: "Oh, the big booby!" 3ontrast:ng in 
his mind, no doubt, the splendor of the royal apartments with 
the poverty of the cottage of his childhood ; then raising his 
thoughts higher he said to himself: Oh my God. if by 
means of this mirror, which is the product of earth, ire can 
sec whatever passes in the room, what do not the blessed in 
Heaven see in that magnificent mirror of Thy Divinity that 
embraces all and in which arc contained all thing?." 

But it was not only in the secrecy of his interior that he 
delighted to humble himself in expiation for an involuntary 
grandeur ; he, moreover, abased himself in the presence of all 
in atonement for distinctions that were to him a martyrdom. 
The Minister of State, Le Pellotier, deposed in the process of 
his canonization : " I was yet young when I first saw the 
servant of God at the Louvre, and I saw him there many a 
time after. His modesty and prudence were full of dignity. 
Courtiers, prelates, ecclesiastics and others rendered him, out 
of pure esteem,great honor ; he received it all with great humil 
ity. On leaving the council, where he had decided upon what 
was greatest in the kingdom, he was as kind and as easy of 
access as he was when among the slaves of Tunis, or on the 
bench of the galley .3. A virtuous bishop who had not seen 
him since his entrance to court, and having found him equally 
humble and affable, and equally disposed to do a favor as 
before, could not refrain from saying to him: "Mr. Vincent is 
always Mr. Vincent." 


In the beginning, when lirst summoned to court, the 
Prince of ComTe desired him, one day, lo take a seat beside 
him. "What! my Lord, answered the humMe priest, drawing 
back, "it is already too much honor that your highness suiters 
me in your presence. But make me sit beside you! Are you, 
then, unaware that I am but the son of a poor villager?" 
Tins was his defence, his watchword, against all attacks on 
his humility. "Manners and liie ennoble a man/ answered 
the prince. - Moreover, Mr. Vincent, it is not to-day that 
we learn your merit. And, the better to judge, he brought 
about the conversation to some point of controversy. Vincent; 
handled it with so much precision and clearness that the prince 
cried out: Ah, Mr. Vincent, Mr. Vincent, what do you say, 
you preach everywhere that you are ignorant, and look, you 
have resolved, in two words, one- of the greatest difficulties 
proposed !>y the sects. " Then the Prince went into some 
question of Canon Law, and, inor;- and more charmed with the 
answers of the of the fourth form, he rose from 
his seat without a word, and, hastening to the Queen, con 
gratulated her on her choice of a man so well versed in what 
pertained to ecclesiastical matters. 

More than onoe he was the butt for bitter jests and the 
blackest of calumnies. Persons endeavored to ruin him with 
the Queen, with the Minister of State and with people of 
merit. To him all this was a happiness and a recompense for 
zeal. A young noble, whom Vincent, doubtless, had frustrated 
in his culpable hopes.said to him once : " You are an old fool." 
"You arc right, my son." answered the holy man, at the 
same time falling on his knees, " and I ask pardon for what 
ever may have given you cause to speak so." " Arc you aware. 
Mr. Vincent, of what is said of you," the Queen laughingly said 
to him one day. " Madam, I am a great sinner." " But you 
should justify yourself." - Far worse things have been said 
of our Lord, and He never justified Himself." 

He never justified himself. An unworthy ecclesiastic 
whom Vincent had debarred from a benefice, attempted 
revenge in spreading dishonorable reports about him. " If 
Mr. Vincent," he represented among people of quality, "did 


not favor me, it was simply because I was unwilling to pur 
chase. Bui; that man, so hostile to simony in others, is quite 
reconciled to it in himself ; and I know one to whom he gave 
a benefice for a library and a good round sum of money." 
This time the saint was moved, and in the first moment of 
excitement he seized the pen to write a letter of justification. 
But he had barely traced the first words when he exclaimed: 
"Oh wretch! of what are you thinking? What! you want 
to justify yourself! And the news has but just come that a 
Christian, in Tunis, falsely accused suffered tortures tor three 
days, and, finally, though innocent of the accusation, died 
without a word of complaint! And you, you wish to excuse 
yourself! No, indeed; it will net be so." And he tore the 
letter which he had already begun. Some days after, the 
calumniator died miserably, and all saw in it the vengeance 
of Heaven. 

Once, noticing that a certain lord, who haJ previously been 
his friend, no longer manifested for him anything but aversion 
he went to him, and said Avith a serene countenance: ".Sir, I 
am so wretched as to have given you displeasure without in 
the least intending it, and, not knowing in what way, I corns 
to humbly beg you to toll me, that I may repair my fault,." 
In the presence of such candor and humility the nobleman 
could not dare to complain, and friendship was re-established. 
In like manner did he act in regard to a religious who 
retained ill-feeling towards him. lie was vesting, at the 
college Bonx Eufanis, and ready to say mass, when the words 
of the Gospel came to his mind: " If th on offercst thy gift at 
the altar and there shaft remember that thy brother hath anything 
ayainst fhce; leave then thy gift before the altar and first ao to be 
reconciled to thy brother." (Mat. v., 23.) Suddenly he lays 
aside the vestments, betakes himself to the religious, is 
profuse in excuses and protestations of esteem for h.m, and 
his order, and then returns to the altar to offer up the 
sacrifice of reconciliation and of love. 

If he did not succeed the first time, his inventive charity 
invariably finished in discovering some means for disarming 


ill-will. Having cast himself at the feet of a superior cf a 


religious community, to ask pardon for some imaginary 
offence, he found himself spurned with scorn and contempt, 
and he withdrew elated with joy in having been ill-treated lor 
justice 1 sake. Some, some ornaments being wanting 
at St. Lazarus, he sent (o horrow from this self same superior 
just as if he had been his best friend. The superior, con 
founded and touched by such a request, cried out: "This I F, 
indeed, the mark whereby I recognize the man of God." The 
ornaments were sent, he follows, and soon he and the holy 
priest are at the feet and in the arms of one another. 

lie sometimes disconcerted those who insulted him and put 
them to flight by tin unexpected act of humility. Publicly 
abused, one day, at the very gate of St. Lazarus by a noble 
whose son he had refused to recommend, he threw him 
self at his feet and said : " You are right, sir, I am but a wretch 
and a sinner." The noble, immediately escaped into his 
carriage. But he could not so easily evade the humble 
priest; Vincent immediately arose, ran after him, and did not 
leave before making a profound reverence. 

"We see that his humility did not manifest itself merely in 
vain words that often signify nothing, but that it produced 
acts of I he most profound humiliation. How often did he not 
fall on his knees before his priests (o publicly avow what he 
termed the crimes of his past life! How often, again, did he 
not accuse himself of some supposed dereliction of duty and 
even of secret movements which he had so effectually curbed 
that nothing appeared exteriorly! How often, finally, did he 
take upon himself all the blame for the faults committed in 
the congregation, always believing himself to be their first 
cause, and looked upon tb.3 death of his missionaries and all 
loss of goods suffered by the institution as a punishment for 
his sins! Every year, on the anniversary of his baptism, he 
knelt before his community and asked pardon of God, and oi" 
men, for all the sins he had committed and for all the scandals 
he had given during the many years that Divine Goodness had 
suffered him upon the earth, and he recommended himself to 
the prayers of all to obtain his conversion and mercy from 


He abased himself in this manner before the least of his 
brothers. When he thought he had offended any one of them 
he sought him everywhere, in the garden, in the kitchen and 
even in the cellar, threw himself at his feet, kissed them, and 
asked pardon. In 1(549, being taken sick at Richelieu, they 
sent to him from Paris the infirmarian of St. Lazarus, who, 
better than any other, knew his constitution, and how he 
should be treated. Vincent, without doubt, received him 
with his usual kindness ; yet he thought proper to say to him 
in a sad tone of voice : " My old carcass was not worth so long 
a journey." Instantly fearing lest the brother infirmarian saw 
in this only a reproach and not a protestation of humility, he 
cast himself at his feet and asked his pardon. But this was 
not enough for this man oi insatiable humility, trembling 
before the shadow of wounded charity. On his return to St. 
Lazarus, he seized, or brought about an opportunity to make 
more ample and honorable amends ; and, one day, the brother 
infirmarian and his assistant being together in his room, he 
said to the latter : " Would you believe, sir, that when this good 
man went to Richelieu for my sake, I did not give him my 
heart as I was accustomed? And for this, in your presence, 
I very humbly ask his pardon, and I beg you to pray to God 
for me that I may not again fall into a like fault." 

All superiority and all distinction should necessarily wound 
a humility so profound. Hence, as we see in his Life, the 
efforts he made in 1G42 to lay aside the office of superior. 
Forced to retain it, he, at least, refused all its advantages and 
honors. He complained of the marks of honor with which 
respect for his virtue inspired his children; and when they 
objected to him that such was the custom in all communities, 
he answered : I know that very well, and we must respect 
their reasons for so doing ; but I have still greater reason for 
not suffering it in my regard I, who ought not to be com 
pared to the most unworthy of men, since I am worse than all 

He would not allow the place which he occupied in the 
church to be covered with a mat, much less would he allow 
the chair to be elevated. "That is," he said, "the privilege 
of bishops and not of a miserable priest as I am," 


Under the influence of the same spirit oi humility he always 
selected for himself the poorest vestments for mass. In 1638, 
on the birth of the king, Ann of Austria sent to St. Lazarus a 
magnificent vestment of silver cloth. It was nenr the feast 
of Christmas, and all wero glad to think that Vincent, who 
was to officiate on that solemnity, would be the first to wear 
it. But ornaments so rich frightened him and it was absolutely 
necessary to bring him others more common. 

Whilst he delighted :n abasing himself in performing the 
most humble service for others, even washing the dishes, and 
cleaning the shoes of an ordinand, he refused for himself all that 
his position, his age and his infirmities demanded. He dressed 
his ulcerated limbs himself, and the carriage of which he was 
obliged to make use he called his ignominy. 

His love for humility in himself he extended to his congre 
gation, always terming it little, the very little, and the sorry 
congregation. He wished it to be considered as the least of 
all, as holding, in every instance, the last rank among the 
clergy, whether regular or secular. He limited its ministry 
to the poor country people. Once, in a letter to St. Jane 
Frances Chantal, something that might redound to the honor 
of his congregation slipped from his pen. He felt remorse and 
wrote to her: " I have told you many things to the advantage 
of this little congregation. Truly, my dear mother, that makes 
me fear. Hence, I beg you, lessen a great deal what I have said, 
and mention it to no one. Alas! my worthy mother, did 
you but know our ignorance and the little virtue we possess you 

would greatly pity us With tears in my eyes 

I say this, feeling but too well the truth of what I say, and the 
abominations of my poor soul. I beseech you, then, my dear 
mother, to offer to God my sham? and the confession I make 
of it to yon in the presence of the Divine Majesty." And this 
is why, too. when any one asked admission into his congrega 
tion, he said: "What! sir, you wish to bo a missionary? 
A lid bow came you to cast your eyes on our little congrega 
tion ? For \ve are only poor people." One of the greatest 
aston: shments of his life was when the Abbe of Tournus,. 
Louis de Eochechourt dc Chandcnier, wished to clothe himself 

HUM! MTV. 107 

v/itli the name- and the rags of the poor mission in presenting 
himself before God. And when, i:i his presence, any ono 
persisted in praising his congregation, lie would say: " It is 
your kindness towards us that induces yon to think in that 
Way; but it is, nevertheless, true that all other communities 
are holy, whilst we are miserable, and worse than miserable." 
Also, when he learned that the labors of the congregation 
were ignored, or calumniated, lie rejoiced and refused all 
defence. He said: "I will never justify myself, save by my 
works. Moreover, it is a blessing to be tre.i cd as our 
Lord was." 

It is useless to add, when speaking of St.Vicsnt de Paul, that 
his humility in no way impaired his constancy or generosity. 
St. Thomas has well said that humility, far i rom destroying 
greatness of soul. 011 the contrary, strengthens it, by giving it 
a solid foundation in God, whils*, at the same time, it rogu- 
lates and orders it in preventing it from losing itself amid 
(he violence of vanity and human activity. When there was 
question of sustaining the interests of God or of the Church, 
no one was more active and firm than Vincent. He showed, 
from the ixample of St. Louis, at once so humble and so 
magnanimous, how easily humility accords with generosity 
and true greatness o! soul. He proved it by his own example. * 
None made himself so little, none did greater things. 


It was of humility, his favorite virtue, that the S.iinb 
spoke lovingly and grandly. And henc?, we tind in no 
spiritual writer anything comparable t) his conference j on 
humility. To show it3 excellence and necessity, he first, 
according to his constant custom, brought forward the 
lessons and example of our Lard: If I culled upon any of 
you to speak, no matter whom, he could advance a niunbri of 
authorities, and reasons touching on this subject ; but to 
honor the words and sentiments of our Lord we will only say 
that I. c Himself recommended it, to us : * Li.irtt of Meb < itu 
I am humble of heart. ( M/it. xi., 2 J.) II it were an apostle, 
if it were St. Peter or St. Paul who g.ivo us thut lesson, ii it 


were the prophets or some saint, we might say they were, like 
ourselves, only disciples. If it were philosophers, alas ! they 
know not this virtue! And Aristotle himself, he who has 
spoken so nobly of all the other moral virtues, does not even 
mention humility. 

" Therefore, only Jesus Christ could say: Leurn of Me. 
Oh, what words! Learn of me. and not of another, not of a 
man, but of a God! Learn of Me! What, then, Oh Lord, 
is this thing so dear in Thy eyes? Because I am humble. 
Oh, my Savior, what a word! / am humble. Yes I am so, 
not simply externally, or from ostentation, or through vanity, 
but humble of heart, ; not with a slight and passing humility, 
but wit!) a heart truly humbled in the presence of My Eternal 
Father, with a heart always humbled before men and for men. 
sinners, loving lowly and abject things and embracing them 
tilways with joy and love. Lchrn of Me. This is so contrary 
to the spirit and maxims ol the world, so removed from the 
inclinations of men, and from the heart of each one, that did 
not a God say it and exemplify it in His own person, none 
would b.? willing to list?n to it ; for all so love what is in them 


and what they produce externally that there is not one who, 
naturally, does not wish to be in good repute, and who does 
not make every effort to obtain esteem and praise. 

And yet, all love humility above all other virtues, at least 
in theory, and this is a fruit of the grace of baptism and of 
the spirit of our Lord. All love it and none possess it, for we 
have an astonishing bent tor pride. Oh, my Savior! how 
differently do Thy actions teach! AVhat is the life of this 
Divine Savior, if not a continual humiliation, both active and 
passive? He so loved it that He did not leave it for an instant 
while on earth; and even after his death, He has wished that 
His Church would represent to us His Divine person in the 
figure of the crucifix, that He might appear to us in a state of 
ignominy, as having suffered for us the death of a criminal, 
and a death the most shameful and most infamous that could 
be imagined. And why this? Because he knew the excel 
lence of humiliation and the malice of the opposite sin, which 
not only aggravates other sins, but even vitiates works that, 


of themselves, are nor evil, and which may taint and corrupt, 
those that :ire good, yes, even the most holy. Because He 
knew the height, the depth, the length and the breadth of 
humility, and saw the relations it hears to the perfections of 
God, His father, in dealing with sinful man. 

"All His life, then, was bur, a continued series of Immilia- : 
tions. That wonderful body, formed by the Holy Ghost, tx> 
remain for so long enclosed in the womb of a Virgin ! To 
wish 1o have it said that he was refused a lodging and that, , 
thus, lie was reduced to take shelter in a stable ! Having; 
received the homages of Heaven and of earth to immediately 
thereafter fall into contempt, being obliged as an infant, to 
miserably fly into Egypt! What do I say? As an infant! 
Ah, as an impotent and feeble God! His lif;? was one contin- . 
ual affection for contempt. His soul was s:> filled with it that 
had any one dissected His heart he would have found engraved 
on that adorable heart, humility, above every other virtue. 

te Humility, therefore, is the virtue of Jesirs Christ ; it is the 
virtue of His Blessed Mother; the virtue of (he greatest 
saints; it is the virtue of missionaries. But what dol say?- 
I mistake, I would that we possessed it, and when I said that it 
was the virtue of missionaries, I meant that it is the virtue of 
Avhich they have the greatest need, and which they should 
most ardently desire. For, this corry little congregation,, 
which is the least of all, sli^nld have no other foundation 
than immility, which should be its own peculiar virtue: 
otherwise, we will never do anything effective, either within 
or without ; and without humility we can nevor expect either 
progress in ourselves or profit for our neighbor. Oh, my 
Savior, give us, then, this holy virtue which is so suited to us, 
which Thou hast made known to the world, and which Thou 
hast cherished with so much affection ! And you, gentlemen, 
know that he, who wishes t > be a true missionary, should 
labor without ceasing to acquire, this virtue- and b jcome 
perfect in it. and should especially guard against all thoughts 
of pride, of ambition and vanity as against the greatest 
enemies he can have; as soon as they appear he should attack 
and exterminate them,{being most vigilant to give them no 


entrance. Yes, I say it anew, if \vo be true missionaries, each 
one of us, in his own particular case, will be glad to be con 
sidered as of poor and mean intellect, as a person of no virtue, 
will be content to be treated as ignorant, to be insulted and 
contemned, to have his defects cast in his face, and to be 
proclaimed a? insupportable by reason of his wretchedness 
and imperfection. I go further and affirm that we should 
rejoice when it is said that our congregation, in general, is 
useless in the Church, is composed of poor, simple persons, 
th:it it succeeds but poorly in all that it undertakes, that its 
labors in the country bear no fruit, that the missionaries are 
devoid of the grace of God and that the ordinations are con 
ducted without order. Yes, if we possess the spirit of Jesus 
Christ we should be satisfied to be reputed such as I have 
mentioned. But, sir, some one will object, what do you 
eay ? T/IJX word is hard. It is true. I acknowledge, that 
that is hard to nature and that it is very difficult to persuade 
nature that it has done badly and still harder for it to suffer 
that such be believed and made a reproach. But also it is 
very easily understood by a soul that \z truly humble and 
knows itself as it really is; and so far is it from being saddened, 
that, on the contrary, it rejoices and it is well content that 
God be exalted and glorified by its humiliation and its insignifi 
cance. know very well that our Lord has given to many in 
the congregation the grace to hasfcm on in the practice of this 
rirtue, has given them the grace to animate their actions with 
the desire of their own abasement, and a love to be unknown 
and despised, lint we must ask God to grant the same grace 
(o all the others, so that our only ambition will he to abase 
ourselves, to annihilate ourselves for the love and glory of 
God. and that the special, distinctive virtue of the Mission be 
humility. That you may the more cherish it, take note of 
what I am about to say, namely, that if you ever heard any 
strangers relate any good done by the Congregation, you will 
find that they do so because they discovered in it some little 
image of humility, and because, they witnessed ifc practice 
loly and humble actions, such as instructing the simple 
peasants and serving the poor. 80, too, when you see the 
ord nands come out of the. retreat edified with the house, you 


recognize, should you examine, that it is because they 
noticed a simple and humble manner of acting which for them 
is a novelty, and for every one a charm and a pleasure." 

It was, then, not simply individual humility that Vincent 
recommended ; it was, moreover, and with reason, humility as 
a body. He said : " Our Lord was humble not only in 
Himself, but He was also humble in His little congregation. 
He formed it out of a few poor rustics without knowledge or 
manners, who even did not agree among themselves, who, in 
a word, all abandoned Him, and who, after His death, were 
treated as Himself, hunted, despised, condemned, and put to 
death. Is it not a strange thing to see how readily it is un 
derstood that Peter, James and John, particular members of a 
congregation, should fly honor, and love contempt, whilst at 
the same time the congregation, they maintain, the commun 
ity must acquire and preserve esteem and honor in the world? 
For I ask you, how is it possible that Peter, James and John 
can truly love and seek after confemnt, and yef. that the con 
gregation composed only of Peter, James and John, and other 
particular members, should love and strive after honor? It- 
must certainly be admitted and acknowledged that these two 
things are incompatible. And hence it is that all the mission 
aries should be content not only when they find themselves, 
in their own persons, contemned and humbled, but also when 
they see their congregation despised, for that will be a sign 
that they arc truly humble. The Apostles agreed upon a 
symbol whereby they might know each other, and by which 
they might distinguish who were Christians; so that when 
they were asked: Who are you? I believe in God, 1 
believe in Jesus Christ ! was their answer. So with us, let 
humility be the distinctive mark of the congregation, and let 
it be known by that virtue rather than by its name, so that, 
should we bo asked what is our state, we may say: Humility/ 
if we be summoned with : Who goes there, let humility be 
our watch-word." 

Influenced by these sentiments he ordained that the mis 
sionaries, when assisting at any public exfrcisc at the 
universities or in colleges, should take the lowest, as their 


proper place, and be very careful to make no show of 
learning. One of the most distinguished of his first missionar 
ies, James de La Fosse, jailed in this order, one day, and thereby 
drew upon himself compliment upon compliment. But there 
was one who had no idea of felicitating him ; it was Vincent, 
who soon heard of this incident: Knowing, sir," he said to 
him, " that a truly humble man and a poor missionary never 
.seek .3 either the first places in assemblies, or to have himself 
spoken of, I require you, therefore, to go and ask pardon 
of those whom you have disedified." 

In what does humility consist? Firjt, in the contempt of 
one s self. "In truth, if each one of us would study to know 
himself he would find that it is very just and very reasonable 
to despise himself. For, if we, on the one hand, seriously 
consider the corruption of our nature, the levity of our mind, 
the d.irknr-ss of our understanding, the disorder of our will 
and the impurity of our affections ; and if, on the other, we 
weigh well in the scales of the sanctuary our works and our 
productions we will find all worthy only of contempt. But 
\vhar ! you may say to me, do you include the sermons we 
preach, the confessions we hear, the care and trouble we take 
with our neighbor for the glory of God? Yes, gentlemen, if 
our best actions be reviewed, it will be discovered that in 
most of them we have failed in the -manner of doing them, 
and often, in the end proposed, and that in whatever way we 
look at .them, we will find as much, of evil as of goal. For, 
tell me. I pray you, what can be expected from the weakness 
.of man ? Who is it produces nothingness and who is if, 
that produces sin ? And what else have we within us but 
nothingness and sin ? Let us, then, look upon it as certain, 
that, in all thing-; and everywhere, we deserve to be rejected, 
and are very despicable by reason of the opposition we have in 
ourselves, to the sanc;ity an 1 other perfections of ^od, to the 
lile of Jesus Christ and to the operations of Hi; gr.ic". If, 
then, we study to know ourselves thoroughly, we will find in 
all we think, in all we say, in all we do, regarding either the 
substance or the circumstances, tlia : we are fully aud com 
pletely surrounded with cause for S ia:ne and confusion ; and if 


we be unwilling to flatter ourselves, wo will perceive that we 
are not only worse than other men, but even, in a certain 
fashion, more wicked than the demons in hell. For, if the^:) 
unfortunate spirits had had, at their disposition, the graces 
and means that have been given us to become better they 
would have made a thousand times better use of them. 

" And more ; we ought to be pleased when others know our 
faults and despise us. We ought to receive with satisfaction 
the contempt that our state of lite, our person, our manner of 
acting or our mode of speech may bring upon us. Our Lord 
could have avoided the insults, the jeers, and the reproaches 
lie received from the Jews, and yet He did not. Let us beget; 
within us an affection for humiliation, and thus God Avill give 
us humility, He will preserve it in us, and He will increase it. 
by the acts He will inspire in us to perform ; for one act of 
virtue well done disposes tor another, and the first degree of 
humility is the stepping stone to the second , the second to the 
third, and so oi the others. Remember, gentlemen and my 
brothers, that Jesus Christ, speaking of the publican who 
humbled himself, said that his prayer was heard. If, then, 
He rendered this tsstimony to a man, who, all his life, had 
been, wicked, for what should we not hope provided we be 
truly humble ? But, on the countrary, what happened to the 
Pharisee? He was a man separated from the rest of the peo 
ple by his state of hie, which, among the Jews, seems to have 
been a kind of religious order, in which he prayed, fasted 
and did many other good Avorks, and yet, notwithstanding, he 
is rejected by God ; and why? Because he regarded his good 
works with complacency, and took pride in them just as if he 
had performed them by his own virtue. See, then, a just man 
and a sinner before the throne of God. And because the just 
is without humility, he is rejected, and with all his good works 
condemned, and that wh .ch, i:i him, appealed virMi m? was 
really vice; on the other hand, soe the sinner who, recognizing 
his wickedness and touched with a true sentiment of humility, 
remains at the door of the tomplc, strikes his breast and dares 
not raise his eyes to heaven ; and by this humble disposition of 
his heart, although he was guilty of many sins going to. the 


temple, yet he left it justified, and one single humiliation was 
the means or his salvation. From this we may perceive that 
humility, when true and real, introduces all the other virtues 
inlo the soul, and that hy sincerely and profoundly humbling 
ourselves, from sinners, that wo were, we become, just. Yes, 
\vero we even the most wicked, did we but have recourse to 
huv.ih ty if, would make us just ; on the contrary, were wo 
like unto angels and did we excel in the greatest virtues, yet, 
were we devoid of humility, these virtues, having no foundation, 
could not subsist, and they, being thus destroyed from want 
of humility, we become like the damned who have no virtue. 
Understand well, then, this truih. g?n*lemen,aad let eaoh one 
engrave it on his heart, and say within himself-: Though I 
had all virtue, il yet, I have not humility I only deceive myself, 
nnd, thinking myself virtu un, I am bat a proud Pharisee, and 
an abominable missionary. Olt, my Savior, Jesus Christ, shed 
upon our minds those lights that filled Thy holy soul and 
made Thee prefer contumely to praise! Inflame our hearts 
with those holy affections that burned anil consumed Thine, 
and which caused Thee in Thy own confusion to seek the 
glory of Thy heavenly Father. Grant, by Thy grace, that we 
begin from the present moment to reject all that does not, 
tend to Thy glory and our shame, all that savors of vanity, of 
o-tenfation and self esteem ! Grant that we renounce, once for 
.all, the applause- of men, who are deceived and. in their turn 
ro deceivers, and all vain imaginations of the good success of 
our works! In a word, Oh, my S.ivior, by Thy grace and 
Thy example, grant that we may learn to be truly humble of 
hear / 

Such : s an abridgement of the great conference cf the 18th 
of April, 1G59. But he continually returns to thij dear 
humility. One morning, during a repetition of prayer, one of 
th-e community having humbled himself for his poor thoughts, 
the Saint said : " It is a good practice to enter yato details in 
humiliating things when prudence allows them to be publicly 
declared, on account of the profit we derive from overcoming 
ourselves in the repugnance we feel in disclosing and making 
known what we would keep secret. St. Augustine published 


the secret sins of his youth, composing a look on them, that 
thus the entire earth might learn the extravagance of his 
errors and the excess o( his licentiousness. And that vessel of 
election, St. Paul, that great apostle who was ravished to the 
third heaven, has he not avowed that he persecuted the 
Church? He hns even left it in writing, so that it may be 
known to the consummation of ages that he was a persecutor. 
Indeed, if \ve be not watchful over ourselves and do not do 
some violence to ourselves in declaring our misery and our 
failings, we will soon confine ourselves to what may occasion 
esteem, and we will conceal what will give confusion. AVe 
inherit this from our first father, Adam, who, after having 
offended God, Avcnt and hid himself. 

I have made different visits to some houses of religious 
women and have oiten asked of (hem what virtue they 
esteemed and loved the most ; I asked it even of those who, I 
knew, had the greatest repugnance for humiliation. Yet out 
of twenty T found scarcely one who did not tell me it was 
humility, so true is it that every body finds this virtue beauti 
ful and amiable. Whence is it, then, that so few embrace it 
and that still fewer possess it? It is because they content 
themselves with admiring it and take no pains to acquire it. 
In theory it is charming, but in practice its visage is disagree 
able to nature; its acts offend, because it would have us 
always select the lowest place, put ourselves beneath others 
and even beneath the least, would have us bear with calumny, 
seek contempt, and love abasement, for all which things we 
naturally have an aversion. Hence it is necessary to overcome 
tin* repugnance and to make some effort to actually exercise 
ourselves iu this virtue, for, otherwise, we will never acquire it. 
1 know well that, through the mercy of God, there are those 
who practice this divine virtue, and who, not only have no 
good opinion of themselves nor of their talents, nor of their 
learning, nor of their virtue, but even, regard themselves as 
very miserable and wish to be considered as such, and esteem 
themselves beneath all creatures. And I must confess, I never 
behold these persons but they cause confusion in my soul, for 
they secretly upbraid the pride that is within me. wretched as 1 


Jim. But they themselves are always content^ and their joy is 
reflected in their countenance, for the Holy Ghost, who icsides 
in them, so fills them with pi-ace that nothing has the power to 
disturb them. When contradicted, they humbly acquiesce, when 
calumniated they benr with it, when forgotten they think it but 
just, when overburdened with occupation they willingly do their 
best, and how difficult soever the thing commanded be. they 
devote themselves to it with a good heart trusting in the power 
of holy obedience. The temptations that assail them only 
serve to strengthen them the more in humility, and to make them 
have recourse to God; and thus they easily obLaiu the victory 
over the evil one. And so the only enemy they have to combat 
is pride which, never in this life, declares a truce, but attacks 
even the greatest saints on earth, some in one way and some in 
another. Some it surprises with vain complacency in the good 
they have done, whilst it inflates otheis with t he knowledge they 
have acqinied. The latter arc tempted to consider themselves 
the most learned, the former to believe themselves the most 
virtuous and most constant. Hence, we have great need to 
pray to God that He may be pleased to secure and preserve us 
from this pernicious vice which is all the more to be feared since 
we have for it a natural leaning. We should, moreover, be 
vigilant over ourselves and do just the contrary of what corrupt 
nature wishes. If it desire to elevate us we must abase our. 
selves; if it excite esteem for ourselves let us think of our 
weakness; if it make us desirous of appearing, we must hide all 
that may attract notice and rr.ust prefer humble and lowly 
actions to those that arc important and honorable. In fine, we 
must frequently recur to the love of our own abjection, an 
assured refuge against all like agitations which this unfortunate 
tendency to pride constantly excites within us. Let us pray 
our Lord, by the merits of the adorable humiliations of His life 
and death, to be pleased to draw us after Him. Let us. each 
one for himself, and mutually for each other, offer to Him all the 
humiliations we may suffer, and let our practice of humility be 
solely for the honor of God and for our own confusion." 

Another day, in speaking of a conference at St. Lazarus, he 
said again: "These gentlemen, the ecclesiastics who meet here, 
took for the subject of their conference, Tuesday last, what 


virtues each had remarked in the late Mr. Olier who had been a 
member of their association. Among other things that were said 
the most important was that this great servant of God aimed, 
ordinarily, to belittle himself in his words, and that, among all 
virtues, he particular!} endeavored to practice humility. As 
they were speaking, I regarded those holy persons portraits that 
arc hung up in the hall, and said to myself: Oh, Lord, my 
God, if we could penetrate the Christian truths as those persons 
have done, and conform our lives to this knowledge. Oh! ho .v 
differently we would act. For example, having rested my eye 
on the portrait of the blessed bishop of Geneva. I thought that 
were we to look upon the things of this world in the same light that 
he regarded them, were we to speak of them r.s he did, and 
were our ears, like his, open only t > eternal truths, we would 
be careful not to allow vanity to occupy our minds or our 

But above all, gentlemen, if we attentively consider this 
beautiful portrait which we have before our eyes, this admirable 
original of humility, our Lord Jesus Christ, can it be possible 
that we will give to our minds admittance of any good opinions 
of ourselves, seeing how far we are from His marvellous self 
abasement? Seeing Him reputed a< a murderer, will we be so 
rash as to prefer ourselves to others? Will we have any fear 
of bcino- esteemed miserable when we see the innocent treated 


as a malefactor, and dying between two thieves, as the most 
guilty? Let us pray God, gentlemen, to preserve us from this 
blindness, let us ask the grace of always tending to lowliness, let 
us confess in His presence, and before men. that of ourselves 
we are but sin, but ignorance and malice; let us wish that it be 
so believed, that others say such of us and on that account 
despise us; in line, let us lose no opportunity of subduing 
ourselves by the practice of this virtue. But it is r.ot enough 
to have an affection for it, and to resolve to practice, as so 
many do; we must do violence to ourselves and actually come 
to theexeicise rf its acts, and of these; there never can be 
too many." 

Following the counsel of the apoUle he insisted in season and 
out of season on the humility proper to his congregation : : God 


has not sent us to assume honorable charges and employments, 
nor to act and speak with pomp and authority; but He sent us 
to evangelize and serve the poor and to perform the other 
functions of our institute in an humble, sweet, and familar 
manner. Hence, we may apply to ourselves what St. John 
Chrysostom said in one of his homilies, that as long as we 
remain sheep out of a veritable and sincere humility, we not 
only will not be devoured by the wolves but will even change 
the wolves into sheep; whereas, the instant we depart from this 
humility and simplicity, the spirit of our institution, we will 
lose the grace which is attached to it, and we will find none 
other in the most brilliant actions And, indeed, is it not just 
that a missionary, who has made himself worthy, in his little 
profession, of the blessing of Heaven and the approbation of 
men, should lose both one and the other when he applies 
hi nsdf to works whic -, by the renown that is sought in Ihcm, 
savor of the spirit of the world, and are opposed to the spirit of 
his state? Is there not reason to fear that he will vanish in 
open day and fall into disorder, as is said of the servant, who, 
becoming master, became, at the same time, haughty and in- 
suff rablc? The late Cardinal Berulle, that great servant of 
God, was accustomed to say that it was good to keep one s self 
lowly, that the more humble conditions in life were the safer, 
and that there was* a certain indefinable danger in high and 
elevated positions, that that was the reason the saints have 
always tried to fly dignities, and that o;;r Lord, to convince us 
by His example as well as by His word, had said, in speaking 
of Himself, that He was come into the world to minister and 
not to be ministered unto." 

The humble founder would not suffer strangers, much less 
members of the congregation, to sound its praises. A person 
lately admitted and still ignorant of the spirit and usages of the 
community having called it the holy congregation. Vincent 
abruptly said: "Sir, when we speak of the congregation we 
should never make use of this term or of any other term equiva 
lent or elevating, but we should employ the following: the poor 
congregation, the little congregation, and such like. In this 
we will imitate tre Son of God, Who called the congregation 
of His apostles and disciple?, little flock, little congregation. 


Oh! how I wish that God would be pleased to give the poor 
little congregation the grace to establish itself strongl}- in hu 
mility, to make this virtue the foundation whereon it may build, 
and that it may remain fixed ^in it as in a frame. Gentlemen, 
we must not deceive ourselves; if we have not humility we have 
nothing. I speak not merely of exterior humilit} . I speak 
principally of that of the heart, and of that humility that makes 
us really believe there is not a single person on the earth more 
pitiable than 3*011 and I: that the Congregation of the Mission 
is the meanest of all congregations, and the poorest, both in 
number and quality of subjects; and a humility that gives us 
pleasure to know that the world so thinks of us. Alas! what is 
it to wish to be esteemed unless to wish to be treated otherwise 
than \vas the Sou of God? It is an insupportable pride. When 
the Son of God was on the earth what did they say of Him? 
And for what was He pleased to pass in the minds of the 
people? Fora fool, for a seditions person, as stupid, as a sin 
ner, though he was none of these; lie even wished to be 
passed over and to have a Barabbas preferred a brigand, a 
murderer, a wicked person! Oh, my Savior, my Savior! how 
Thy holy humilit}- will, on the Day of Judgment, confound all 
sinners, such as I, miserable. Let us be vigilant in regard to 
this; and you, who go on missions, you, who speak in public, 
take care. Sometimes, and often enough, the people arc 
touched with what has been said to them, they are seen to weep; 
and even there are some among them wJio, in their excitement, 
cry out: Blessed is the womb that bore thee and the paps 
that gave theo suck! We have, sometimes, heard similar 
exclamations. Nature hearing this is satisfied, vanity is 
engendered and nourished, unless these vain complacencies be 
suppressed, and unless we seek purely the glory of God, for 
which alone we should labor. Yes, we should labor solely for 
the glory of God and the salvation of souls. To do otherwise 
would be to preach ourself and not Jesus Christ. And he, who 
preaches for applause, for praise, for esteem, to have his name 
on everybody s tongue, what does he do, what does such a 
preacher do? What is it that he does? lie commits a sacri- 
le fc: yes. a sacrilege! What! make the word of God and 

o 7 

divine things the means to acquire reputation! Yes, it is a 


sacrilege! Oh, my God, my God, give this poor little congre 
gation the grace that no one of its members fall into this 
misfortune! Believe me, gentlemen, until we have a profound 
humility and an entire contempt for ourselves we will never be 
lit to do the work of God. No, if the Congregation of the 
Mission be not humble, and if it be not pursuaded that it can 
do nothing good, that it is more suited to spoil everything than 
to succeed in any good work, it never will do much; but when 
it will possess nnd live in the spirit I have mentioned, then, 
gentlemen, it will be ready for the designs of God because such 
are the subjects God makes use of to effect great and lasting 

.Some theologians, explaining the Gospel of the day. in 
which mention is made of the five wise virgins, nnd of the 
five foolish ones, think that this parable should be interpreted 
of persons in community who have retired from the world. 
If, then, it be true that the half of these virgins, of these 
persons arc lost, ah! v.hat should we not fear? And what 
should not I, fust of all, dread? But now, gentlemen, let us 
lake courage and not lose herrt, let us give ourselves properly 
to God. let us renounce ourselves and our satisfactions our 
ease and our vanity; let us look upon ourselves as our greatest 
enemies; let us do all the good we can and let us do it with all 
the requisite perfection. Tt is notenough to assist our neighbor, 
to fast, to meditate, U> labor on the missions. All this is good 
in its way, but it is not enough; we must, moreover, do all this 
well, namely, in the spirit of our Lo:d. after the manner of our 
Lord, humbly and with an upright intention, that the name of 
His Father be glorified and His will accomplished. 

" The fruit that plants bear is not of a nature more excellent 
than that of the stalk. We are the stalks of those who will 
come after us, who. very likely will not carry their works to a 
higher degree of excellency than we do ours. If we have done 
well, the evample will go from one to another. Those who 
remain teach those who follow the manner the first practiced 
virtue, and these, in their turn, teach others who come after; 
and this results from the grace of God which the first merited. 
How is it that we see in the world certain families who, for 
generations, live so well in the fear of God? I have just now 

HUMILITY. * 211 

in in y mind one, among other?, of which I knew the grand 
father and the father, who both were very good men, and 1 
knoAV to-day the children, who are likewise good. AVhence 
does this come? It is because their parents, by their good and 
holy lives, have merited this grace v from God. For God, 
according to His promise will bless such families eve:i to the 
thousandth generation. l>ut again we see husbands and wives 
who are good rnd live virtuously, and yet everything melts 
a\vny and goes to ruin in their hands, nothing succeeds with 
them. And whence comes this? It is because the punishment 
of God, which their parents merited by their grievous faults, 
passes to their descendants, according to what is written, that 
God vvill chastise the sinful father in his children to the fourth 
generation. Although this is understood p.incipally in regard 
to temporal goods, yet we may, in some manner, take it in 
relation to spiritual things. Consequently, if we faithfully 
observe our rules, if we practice well all the virtues proper for 
a true missionary, we will merit, in some sort, the same grace 
from God for our children, that is, for those that will come after 
us, who, likewise, will do well. If we do badly, it is to be 
feared that they will do the same, and even worse, for nature 
always carries us along with itself and ever tends to disorder. 
We can consider ourselves as the fathers of those who will come 
after ns. The Congregation is still in its cradle, it has just 
been bcrn, it is only a few years since it begau to exist, and is 
not this to be in the cradle? Those, who, two or three hundred 
years from now come after u, will look upon us as their fathers 
and even those who have only just now come, will be consider 
ed as among the first, for all those of the first hundred years will 
be regarded as the first fathers. When you wish to give more 
weight to a passage that is found in some one of the fathers of 
the first ages, A on say: This passage is taken from such a 
father, who lived in the first or second century. In the same 
way it will be said: In the time of the first priests of the 
Congregation of the Mission such was done, they lived in such 
a manner, such and such virtues flourished among them. This 
being so, gentlemen, what example should we not leave to our 
successors, since the good they will do depends, in some 
manner, on that which we perform ? Some of the fathers of the 


Church maintain that God shows damned parents the evil their 
children do on earth in order to augment their torments; and 
that the more these children multiply their sins so much the 
more do the parents, who are the cause by the evil example they 
left them, suffer the vengeance of Heaven. On the other hand, 
St. Angust-in says that God makes known to the fathers and to the 
mothers who arc in heaven the good that their children do on 
earth, that their joy may be increased. Then, gentlemen, what 
consolation and what joy will we not receive when God will 
deign to show us that the Congregation is doing well, abound 
ing in good works, observing faithfully the order of time and 
employments left it, living in the practice of the virtues and 
good examples which we will have willed to it! Oh, wretched 
man that I am, who says and docs not! Pray to God for me. 
gentlemen; pray to God for rne, my brothers, that He may 
convert me! But now, let us all give ourselves to God, but in 
earnest, let us labor, let us assist and aid the poor country 
people who are awaiting us." 

One of his priests, who was stationed in Artois, having 
published, without previously obtaining permission, a short 
notice of the Congregation, its progress and its works, sent a 
a copy to Vincent thinking that he would, in return, receive 
some mark of gratitude. 

The humble founder, on the 7th of February, 1G57, wrote to 
him: The pain this has occasioned me is so sensible that I 
am unab e to express it. To publish what we are, and what we 
do is very much opposed to Luimility .... If there "be any 
good in us or in our method of life, it is from God, whose also 
it is to manifest it, should He judge it expedient. ]>ut for us 
who arc: poor, ignorant and sinful men, we ought to hide our 
selves as being unfit for any good and unworthy the considera 
tion of any one. Hence it is that, thus far, God has given rr.e 
the grace, to refuse to allow to be printed aiu thing that could 
make the Congregation known and honored, though I have 
been warmly urged, particularly in regard to correspondence 
from Madagascar, from Barbary and the Hebrides. Still less 
would I have permitted the publication of what relates to the 
essence and spirit, the birth and growth, ihe functions and the 


end of our Institute. And would to God, sir, it were yet to be 
done! But since there is no longer a remedy, I will say no 
more. Only. I beg you, do nothing that concerns the Congre 
gation before informing me. 1 

When, it was impossible to conceal from himself and others 
the virtue and the success of the Congregation, he wished, at 
least, to protect humility and even that it should receive its 
share of the profit, and would say: " We ought never turner 
fix our eyes on what is good in us, but rather strive to know 
what is bad and defective; this a great means to preserve humil 
ity, we ought not to dwell on the gilt of converting souls nor on 
whatever other exteiior talents we may have, for they are not 
ours, we are only the bearers of them, and even with those gifts 
we can lose our souls. For this reason no one should flatter 
himself, nor take any complacency in himself, nor conceive any 
self-esteem because God works grand things by his instrumen 
tality; he should rather humble himself and acknowledge that 
he is but a wretched instrument which God deigns to make use 
of just as He did of the rod of Moses, which, though working 
wonders, was none the less a piece of fragile wood. 

" I pra} you to adopt these sentiments and to seek in your 
labors nothing but humiliation and ignominy, and, if it please 
God, death at the end. Ought not a priest, who aims to acquire a 
reputation in the service of God. die of shame? Ought he not 
to be overwhelmed with confusion. in dying in his bed. he who 
has seen Jesus Christ receive opprobrium and a gibbet as the 
recompense of His hvbor ? Recall to mind that we live in Jesus 
Christ to die the death of Jesus Christ, and that we ought to die 
in Jesus Christ to live the life of Jesus Christ; that our life 
should be hidden in Jesus and full of Jesus, and that, to die as 
Jesus died, we must live as Jesus lived. Now, these principles 
established, let us devote ourselves to ob oquy and ignominy; 
let us disapprove of the honors rendered us, of the good name 
and applause given UP, and let us do nothing to acquire 
them. . . . Humble yourselves profoundly in the thought 
thnt Judas received greater graces than you, that these graces 
produced more effect than yours, and, notwithstanding, he is 
lost. And what will it profit the greatest preacher in the 
world, and one endowed with most excellent talents, to have 


the praise of his sermons sounded throughout an entire province 
or even to have converted thousands of souls, and lose his 

With St. Vincent, humility was the source whence flowed all 
other virtues, especially charity. "During the sixty seven 
years that God has suffered me to be on earth. I have thought 
and thought again on the means the most proper to acquire and 
preserve union and charity with God and our neighbor; but I 
have found none better or more effectual than holy humility, 
than the abasing of ourselves beneath all, judging evil of none 
and looking upon ourselves as the least and as the worst of all. 
For it is self-love and pride that blind us and induce us to 
maintain our ideas against those of our neighbor. Consequently, 
the more a person is humble, the more charitable will he be. 
Charity is the paradise of communities. Hut charity is the soul 
of virtues, and it is humility that attracts and guards them. 
As with valleys that receive the mountain rains so with, com 
munities that are humble. Once we are void of ourselves, God 
will fill us with Himself, for He cannot bear a vacuum. Let 
us, then, humble ourselves, my brethren, seeing that God has 
cast His eyes on this little congregation, to render it of service 
to His Church, if, however, we can call a congregation a hand- 
full of men poor in birth, in learning, and in virtue, the dregs, 
the sweepings and the refuse of the world. I pray God, two or 
three times every day. that He may destroy us ; .f we prove un 
serviceable for His glory. What! gentlemen, would we desire 
to remain in the world without pleasing Go.l and procuring 
His glory?" 




Vincent s obedience was profound, entire, and admirably 
ordered. First of all he kept himself in a constant and absolute 
dependence on. God, and sought to do His adorable will in 
everything. Hence, hardly arrived in Paris, he places himself 
under the direction of Berulle and obeys him as he would God 
Himself, assuming, on a word from him. either pastoral dut^y, or 
service in the house of Gondi 

He saw God in all spiritual and temporal powers, and 
submitted to them alike in sorrow as in joy. in humiliation as 
in honor. 

In his judgments, in his aifections Mid in his undertakings, 
he obeyed the Pope, as Vicar of .Je.sus Christ and Sovereign 
Pastor of the Church, he obeyed the bishops, as the successors 
of the apostles, never performing or permitting any functions 
of his institute without their consent. If a bishop refused 
the service of his missionaries, he immediately withdrew them, 
and simply wrote: We are entirely unworthy to serve God 
under so great a prelate as you aVe; when I seek for the reasons 
Providence has had to cause us to be considered so, I find nove 
Other but my sins." (To the Bishop of Perignenx, April 1st, 
165"..) It was in obedience to a bishop, St. Francis de Sales, that 
he accepted and continued for so long, notwithstanding the press 
of duties, his infirmities and his age, the direction of the Nuns of 
the Visitation; in obedience to the Archbishop of Paris, lit- 
rcassumed the burden ai tei having laid it aside, and continued to 


carry it until his death. -lam the child of obedience," he- 
wrote one day, " it seems to me that should the bishop command 
me to go to the extremity ofhis diocese, there to remain all my 
life, I would do it just as if our Lord had commanded me, and 
that that retirement, or the employment he would give me- 
would be a foretaste of Paradise, because I would in this be- 
accomplishing the good pleasure of God." 

lie still obeyed the parish priests even after he had received 
the mission and full power from the bishop, and would never 
undertake anything in their parishes save with their consent 
and according to their pleasure. 

He obeyed the King in the smallest, ns well as in the greatest 
things, and sometimes in the most naive manner. A brother 
found some partridge eggs within the enclosure of St. Lazarus. 
Retook them and put them under a hen. As soon as they were 
hatched he put them in a cage and brought them to Vincent. 
The latter, at first, seemed to make no acknowledgement, but 
presently he said to the brother: u Come, let us take a walk 
in the enclosure. r As soon as they reached the field he told 
him to open the cage and let Ihe birds loose. " My brother," 
he then said, "you knew well that the king forbade the taking 
of partridges whence you found these eggs. I beg of you, do so 
no more." 

One day, a noble said to the Queen: "There arc few 
persons, like Mr. Vincent, attached to the service of the 
King and state with such a sincere, constant, and disinterested 
fidelitv." "You are right," answered Ann of Austria, "Mr. 
Vincent is a true servant of God and of his Prince. " It was,, 
in a special manner, in obedience to the Queen that he under 
took the missions of St. Germain and Fontainbleau; and when 
in this last royal residence his priests had met with certain; 
obstacles, he would not withdraw them without the permission 
of the Queen. 

He obeyed his inferiors, and even all classes of persons. In 
obedience to theKeverend Doctor Duval he entered St. Lazarus;, 
through obedience to the former prior he made the acquisition 
of that farm of Orsigny that brought a distressing and ruinous 
lawsuit. In general he condescended to listen to the advice 


und wishes of others, even those of a weak mind, when the 
object was indifferent, and when neither truth nor charity was 
interested. In such cases, for the sake of obedience and humil 
ity, he sacrificed to them his superior intelligence and experi 
ence. He never either contradicted or contended; lie, himself, 
when contradicted, invariably, after having adduced his reasons, 
maintained an humble silence. But when the service or glory 
of God was the subject, then he showed himself firm and unshak 
en in his opinions and resolutions: I will condescend as much 
iie you wish," he would say, provided God be not offended " 
And still, even in such instances, he refused with such grace, aich 
gentleness and humility that his resistance was more acceptable 
than the deference of others 


Such was the obedience that he preached to his confreres, and 
counselled every one. He wrote in his constitutions: "We 
will obey exactly all our superiors, and each one of them, 
considering them in our Lord, and our Lord in them; and 


first of all our holy father, the Pope, to whom we will sincerely 
and faithfully render reverence and obedience." 

He taught obedience to the Pope, especially in regard to 
foreign missions. lie wrote: "The power of sending to the 
nations residing in no one on earth, save in the person of His 
Holiness, he, consequently, has the power of sending ecclesias 
tics throughout the entire earth for the glory of God and the 
salvation of souls, and ecclesiastics are, in this, obliged to 
obey. In accordance with this principle I have offered the 
little Cono-reo-ation to God to go whithersoever His holiness may 

o O o 

ordain. AVe ought to be, in regard to the Pope, as were the 
servants in the Gospel, in regard to their Master, so that when 
He tells us: Go there, we will be obliged to go; Come here, 
we will come; Do this, it will be our duty to do it. This little 
Congregation ought to live in the disposition to obey, even to 
the neglect of all else; it should be so disposed that were the 
Pope to send its members, from the superior down to the last 
brother, to the extremities of the earth, they would willingly 


Whilst reserving for himself and his successors the internal 
government of the Congregation, he asked the Holy - s cc to 
make it subject to the bishops in nil those functions that per 
tained to the assistance of the neighbor, such as missions, con 
ferences, retreats, and seminaries, so that in these nothino- 


might be done but with their permission ami consent. 

lie also recommended his priests to do nothing in parishes, 
not even, he said, to 7 % emove a single straw, without the con 
sent of the pastors. And he wrote: " AVe hold it ns a maxim, 
to labor in the service of the public according to the good 
pleasure and under the direction of the pastors, and never to 
go against their sentiments; and at the opening and at the close 
of each mission we ask their blessing in a spirit of depend 

He preached obedience to kings, and confirmed it by the 
example of the first Christians: "We should, after their 
example," he said, "always render to kings a faithful and sim 
ple obedience, without ever complaining of them, or murmur 
ing against them under any pretext. And even when there is 
question of loss of property, or of life, let \is yield them from 
a spirit of obedience rather than gainsay their wills, provided 
the will of God does not oppose, for kings represent in our 
regard the sovereign power of God on earth." 

And carrying his doctrine of obedience further, he said again : \ 
"We should not confine ^our obedience simply to those who^ 
have the right to command us, but we ought to extend it still.,/ 
further; for if, as St. Peter recommends, we submit to every 
living creature for the love of God, we will be far from the 
danger of failing in what is of obligation. Let us. then, t--y to 
do so. and let us regard all others as our superiors, and, for 
this purpose, let us esteem ourselves below them and even 
inferior to the least, showing them deference, condescension 
and kindness. Th, what a happy thing it would be were God 
to firmly establish us in this practice!" 

lie counselled, particularly, thiscondesccnsioa among children 
of the same religious family : "In a community," he said, "all 
those who compose it and are members should exercise conde 
scension towards each other; and in this spirit the learned 


-ought to descend to the weakness of the ignorant in all that is 
not sin or error; the wise and prudent ought to condescend to 
the humble and simple: Not high minded, but condescending to 
the humble. (Rom. xii., 10). In this same sphit of condescen 
sion we should not only approve of the sentiments of others 
in things good or indifferent, but we ought even prefer them to 
our own, believing that others possess more light and have 
better natural or supernatural qualities than we. But in things 
that are bad we must be on our guard against any condescen 
sion, for, iu such a case, it is no longer a virtue but a serious 
fault and one that can only come from a licentious mind, or from 
cowardice and pusillanimity." 

So obedient himself, and so penetrated with the necessity of 
obedience he could not suffer the least infraction of this virtue. 
Lambert Aux-Conteaux was his assistant, that is to say, he was 
after Vincent, the first in the Congregation. The Saint, one 
night, kept him up very late working, and, when he was leaving 
the room, told him to take a rest in the morning. The next 
morning Lambert was the first at prayer, Vincent perceived 
him, and, in the presence of the entire community, brothers and 
young seminarists included, he ordered him to kneel down, and 
then said: "Sir. obedience is better thru sacrifice. A fault 
less serious than yours nearly cost Jonathan his life and created 
disorder in the army of the children of Israel/ 

Finally, obedience to rules and to superiors. He said to the 
Sisters of Charity: "You have, doubtless, heard tell of what 
sailors do when they are on the open sea, and. sometimes, more 
than five hundred leagues from land. Well, they have perfect 
confidence as long as the laws of navigation are observed; but 
when these are neglected and the sails become unmanageable 
then they run great chance of being lost. It is the same in 
every community, f A community is a little vessel that floats in 
an open sea, but a sea extremely perilous, and where dangers 
are multiplied.) Your fidelity to your vocation, your good 
behavior and constant observance of your rules, give all assur 
ance of safety. Do not fear, then; your are fn the very vessel 
God inspired you to sail in; there is need of a good pilot who 
will watch while you ?leep. 

"And who, do 3*011 think, are those pilots so necessary to 


guide your ship? Your superiors, whose duty it is to direct you 
in what you have to do to arrive happily at port. This happi 
ness will be yours, provided you obey them punctually and be 
faithful in the practice of your rules." 

The obedience he taught his own community, he preached to 
all others of which he had charge. Among all the virtues the 
religious of the first house of the Visitation in Paris have 
testified he frequently recommended to us the virtue of 
obedience and exactitude to rcgularit}*, even in the slightest 
points of the rule. lie took a special delight in forming our 
community well in these virtues of obedience and exactitude, 
and said to us: These two virtues, when practiced persever- 
ingly, constitute the religious state To incite ourselves to 
their practice it is good to talk of them familiarly when together, 
and entertain ourselves with the idea of their excellence and 
beauty. We should have an affection for them on account of 
the pleasure God takes in the religions who are faithful in them, 
and because He, Who is their Divine Spouse, so loves these 
virtues that the least delay in obedience is disagreeblc to Him. 
A truly religions soul, having vowed obedience in the presence 
of the entire Church, ought carefully accomplish what she has 
promised. If we give way in little thing? we will soon give 
way in something greater. All the creature s good consists in 
doing the will of God. But this will is found particularly in 
the faithful practice of obedience, and in the exact observance 
of the rules of the institute. We cannot render a more agree 
able homage to God than by practicing obedience, where!)} Ha 
accomplishes His designs in our regard. In it is found Hi 
pure glory, together with the destruction of self-love and all 
other interests, and this is what we should have mainb/ in view. 
The practice of obedience gives the soul the true and perfect 
liberty of the children of God." 

He strongly recommended us to renounce our own judgment, 
and to mortify it by submitting it to that of our superiors, and 
he ssiid to us again: "Obedience consists not only in doing 
immedir.tely what is ordered, but it also requires that we keep 
ourselves entirely disposed to do all that may be con.manded 
on any occasion. We must look upon our superiors as holding 


in our regard the place of Jesus Christ, and in view of that, we 
should render them a very great respect. To murmur against 
them is a certain interior apostasy. For, as exterior apostasy 
consists in quitting the habit of religion, and separating from 
the community, so interior apostasy exists when we separate 
from superiors, contradicting them in our own minds and 
adhering to our own particular views which arc contrary to 
theirs; this is the greatest of all evils that can happen in com 
munities. That religious avoids this evil who remains in a holy 
indifference and allows herself to be guided by her superiors." 

He said to us still further on the subject of obedience: 
" As the basis for the true submission that ought to exist 
in a community the following should be well weighed: 

" Fhst: The position of superiors who hold in our regard the 
place of Jesus Christ on earth. 

" Second: The trouble they take and the solicitude they have 
for our perfection; sometimes passing the entire night in 
unrest, and often deeply troubled in heart, whilst inferiors enjoy, 
at their ease, the peace and tranquility procured for them by 
the care and toil of the superiors whose anxiety is all the 
greater because they have reason to dread the account that they 
will have to render to God. 

Third: The recompense, even in this lite, promised souls 
truly obedient; for, besides the graces this virtue merits, God 
delights in doing the will of those who, from love for Him, 
submit their will to their superiors. 

Fourth: The punishment that those, who are unwilling to 
obey should apprehend, a terrible example of which God gives us 
in the chastisement His justice inflicted upon Core, Dathan and 
Abiron for having contemned Moses, their superior, and for 
having, by this contempt, grievously offended God, who has 
said, speaking of the superiors whom His Providence has 
established in the Church: He, who hears you, hears Me, and 
he, who despises you, despis-es Me. 

"Fifth: The example of obedience Jesus Christ came to give 
man, having preferred death to disobedience. And surely it 
would be a great hardness of heart to see a God obeying even 
unto death for our salvation, and we, poor, miserable creatures, 
refusing to subject ourselves for love of Him." 


But all this doctrine is found more amply and more eloquently 
developed in the conferences of the Saint whether to the Sisters 
of Charity or to the missionaries. Following his ordinary 
method he first adduced the motives of obedience, and first the 
example of the Son of God: There certainly must be something 
very great and divine in this virtue since our Savior so loved it 
from the first moment of His birth to the time of His death, 
since all the actions of His life were done through obedience. 
He obeyed God, the Father, in becoming man; He obeyed His 
mother, and St. Joseph, His foster father: And He was sub 
ject to them. He obeyed all those who were in dignity, 
whether good or bad; so that His entire life was but one 


continued act of obedience. He began His life, and finished it 
through obedience. lie made Himself obedient unto death, 
even unto the death of the cross, and it-he re} ore it is His Father 
exalted Him. 

Oh, my Savior, what then is this virtue of obedience? How 
excellent must it be since you have found it worthy of a God ! 
Oh, the beautiful example of obedience our Lord has left us! 
What need of other motives after that? If there be anything 
more it is what our Lord has said : He who does not renounce 
himself is not worthy of me. nor worthy to be my disciple. We 
cannot, indeed, go out of ourselves nor leave our soul or our 
body. To renounce one s self then is to renounce one s judg 
ment and one s will, and this is obedience. 

Second : In disobeying, we sin more or less grievously accord - 
ino- to the oravitv of the disobedience, and particularly, accord- 

O O - 

in"- to what is commanded by the rules, since these are all taken 

O " 

either from the scriptures, or from the commandments of God; 
and when the disobedience is in important n:attcrs it gives 
scandal; and particularly, when it is through contempt, we may 
ein mortally. 

He then asked himself in what this virtue consisted, and 
answered: "In a disposition to do what these, to whom we are 
subject, wish. God is the God of virtue. But virtue has its 
principle and its root in the interior, for, as what appears man 
is not man himself so what seems obedience is not always the 
virtue of obedience which consists in a constant disposition to 


obey, to renounce one s own judgment. With such a disposi 
tion we go direct to God. A superior, who ordains a certain 
thing, can, indeed, fail in ordaining. Alas! he is not infallible 
nor impeccable but he, who obeys, provided the thing be not 
evidently sinful, is sure of doing the will of God, for God 
cannot deceive. How could our Lord exact obedience from 
the Scribes and Pharisees, from the priests of the ancient law 
who, for the most part were filled with vice, and with which he 
frequently reproached them. And yet He told the people: 
Obey them, do as they tell you, but do not imitate their 
works. And how could He have obej-ed them Himself, were 
lie tnus doing wrong, or did not know how to practice great 

c^ o i o 

acts of virtue ? l;ecause they were in authority and dignity; 
they, therefore, should be obeyed according to the rule: //e 
iclio hears you hears me .... Theirs it was to guide souls. 
"Let us then follow the beautiful example that our Lord has 
given us: For I do always Ike things that please Him (John 
viii, 29). Yes, 1 do ahcays; and this obedience which He renclei- 
cd endured not only whilst he was on earth, but continues even 
to-day when He is glorious in heaven, lie is obedient to the 
priests, even those who are wicked, allowing them, \r. t.he Holy 
Eucharist, to elevate or lower Him JKS they please. Oh, what 
an obedience that endures even after death! Oh. my Lord. 
Thou hast, from all eternity, taken the resolution to obey! 
Grant us the grace to enter into Thy sentiments, the grace to 
pbey our rules, to obey the order of our superiors, their will 
expressed by wcrd^or sign, and even their intention." 

In the third place how arc we to obey? The answer to this 
^ question is read particularly in a conference to the Sisters of 
Charity, given on the 25th of June, 1042: " We must obey 
promptly, cheerfully, with submission of judgment, and with 
the intent of pleasing God. Obedience should be prompt; for 
sluggishness and delay in obeying greatly diminish the merit, 
discdify our neighbor, sadden .superiors, who, in such case, 
would far prefer to do the thing themselves, than command it. 
We should obey willingly nnd not through force and constraint, 
fearing to displease and then be reprimanded We should obey 
with submission of judgment, doing what is commanded and in 
the manner it is commanded, and considering it to be for the 


best, notwithstanding an}- contrary ideas we may have; and all 
the more so as our judgment is blind and the knowledge of what 
is best is often hidden from us by the preoccupations of our 
passions, as clouds hide the rays of the sun. Finally, we should 
obey in order to please God, enlivening our obedience with 
thoughts like these; In obeying I render myself acceptable to 
God, it is the same as if I said I do a pleasure to God. Oh! 
what a happiness for a poor and wretched creature to have the 
power to do a thing that pleases God! This is doing His holy 
will, this is doing what the angels do. On the other hand, 
whatever we do of our own choice, let the thing be ever so excel 
lent, we always incur the danger of doing the will of the devil, 
who transforms himself into an angel of light, and desires to 
deceive us by the appearance of some little good." 

In the conferences of April 7th. 1650. and May . 3d, 1655, 
he returns to the subject and recompense of obedience: There 
is a double merit in an action performed through obedience: 
there is the merit of the work, when it is good, in itself, and, 
moreover, there is the merit of obedience by which the action is 
done. We may compare actions done through obedience with a 
painting from the hand of sone great master, as, for instance, 
Michael Angolo. The painting is in itself worth, say, no more 
than ten crowns, but being the work of a great artist its value 
is greatly enhanced and may be sold for twenty or thirty crowns. 
Or again, we compare them to ornaments destined for the service 
of the altar. You will see fine linen, very white, nicely folded, 
and of sweet odor, that is highly esteemed in itself, but is prized 
far more since it is to be used for the service at mass. Thus, a 
good action which we perform has its own merit, but obedience 
gives it an additional merit, and, moreover, renders meritorious 
the most indifferent actions, and even those that of themselves 
Lave no value. 

"It is just as if we united precious stones with other precious 
stones. Imagine a dress made of beautiful silk. The silk alone 
makes the dress beautiful, but it is still more stiking if gold 
3acc be added. Thus it is with good actions performed out of 
obedience ; and for each such action we receive two rewards. 
Even the indiffeicnt actions are more agreeable to God than 
good works without obedience. This virtue is a sort of philos 
opher s stone, and ail it touches becomes gold." 


It is readily understood that, in his correspondence, the Saint 
placed this same doctrine within the roach of each of those 
under his charge according to the state or dispositions in which 
they were. He wrote to Mademoiselle Le Gras who. through 
obedience, had renounced one of her pious undertakings: "Our 
Lord will, perhaps, draw greater glory from your submission 
than from all the good you could have done. A beautiful 
diamond is of more value than a mountain of stones, and one 
act of the virtue of acquiescence and submission is worth more 
than a number of good works performed in behalf of others." 

He wrote to one of his clerics (May 28th. 1059): "Your 
letter has informed me of your trouble. I full}* believe that 
God makes you feel the unhappy results of a change sought by 
your own will, for it is His custom to make those, who have 
undertaken to serve Him, know that their repose is in obedience, 
and never in the accomplishment of their own will. And, 
remember, you will never find calmness of mind in following our 
Lord, unless you renounce yourself, because He Himself has 
said that, in order to follow Him, this renunciation must be 
made, and the cross carried every day You have heard this a 
hundred times and yet you do not apply the lesson; at least you 
have manifested the contrary by the frequent requests you have 
made to be changed, and notwithstanding that you were begged 
to have patience where you were, you still had your objections 
and difficulties, and I told 3*011 that you would have them every 
where. It was necessary to content you, but the contentment 
did not last long: you tell me so yourself. Our Lord calls 
obedience to His maxims a }*oke to show us that it is a state of 
submission, and a hard one for those who wish to withdraw 
from it. but sweet and easy for those who love it and are enamor 
ed of it. M}* dear brother, do you wish to find peace of heart 
and thousands of blessings from God? Listen no more 
either to your judgment or your will. You have alieady 
sacrificed them to God; be careful not to resume them. Let 
yourself be guided, and rest assured that it will be God who 
will conduct yon. and He will lead you to the liberty of His 
children, to an abundance of consolation, to great progress in 
virtue and to your eternal happiness. I say all this to you 


because you propose still another change; otherwise I Avonld 
have imitated the kindness of God who never reproaches us 
with faults once pardoned. I would have thought of yours no 
longer, had I not seen 3-011 in the danger of committing the 
like again; this is why I represent to you the trouble and 
anxiety that will come upon you if the experience of what you 
have already suffered do not make 3*011 more submissive. Con. 
sider it as certain that, if you are changed because 3-011 demand 
it, 3-011 will no sooner arrive at your destination than you can 
sa3*, as 3-011 now 8113 where 3-011, at present, are, that 3-011 are 
there by your own choice rather than by the will of God, having 
obliged 3*oiir superiors to send 3-011 against their better judg 
ment, and this thought will constantly disquiet 3-011. And no\v, 
t.o take away this sting of conscience in regard to the place you 
are in at present, remain there because holy obedience ordains 
it, and no longer look upon 3-0111- being there as by your own 
will, but by that of God. Ask His pardon for the past and 
think no more of it Resolve to give ear no more to 3-0111- 
own spirit, if 3-011 do not wish to be led astra3-, for it is of 
such a nature that it will trouble 3-011 wherever 3-011 go, unless 
3 ou believe me I pray our Lord to animate 3-011 with His 
spirit, our Lord who was so submissive that He compared 
Himself to a beast of burden, which is so indifferent that one 
can do with it as he wishes, no matter when or where. Were 
we in such a disposition God would soon lead us to perfection. 

Everything furnished him a subject and an occasion to preach 
obedience: "A captain told me, a few da3 T s ago, that, were he 
to perceive that his general gave a wrong command and that 
lie would lose his life in obeying it, though he could, with one 
word, have the order changed, 3 - et lie would lose his honor were 
he to say that word, and he would prefer to die than utter it. 
Sec, gentlemen, how great our confusion will be before Heaven 
in witnessing such perfection of obedience in wor, and our own 
sb imperfect in comparison." 

And j-uddcnl3 r , reflecting on his position as Superior and on 
the obligation he had just imposed on his children of obeying 
himself, he cried out in his humility: "Oh, wretch that I am! 
To obe3- one who disobeys God ! Who disobeys our holy Mother 
the Church! Or.c who was disobedient to his father and mothe? 


from his infancy! for almost all my life has been but disobe 
dience. Alas ! gentlemen, to whom do yoij render obedience ? To 
one, who, like the Scribes and Pharisees, is full of vice and sin. 
But this will give your obedience all the greater merit. I was 
reflecting a little while ago on my disobedience and I remem 
bered that, when a small boy, my father brought me to the 
city and I was ashamed of him because he was badly dressed, 
and limped a little. Oh, miserable wretch that I am! How 
disobedient have I been! I ask God s pardon lor it and for all 
the scandals I have given you. I will also ask pardon of the 
entire congregation, and I conjure you to pi ay to God for me 
that He may pardon me these faults, and give mo also a sincere 
regret for them." 


Simplicity shone in Vincent in all its modest brightness. It 
gained all those with whom he came in contact; it contributed, 
in a great measure, to the success of his immense undertakings, 
because, besides the blessing of God, it won for him the confidence 
and affection of men. AVith humility and charity it, of all his 
virtues, is the one that struck his contemporaries the most, 
and they all unite in rendering it amost touching and unanimous 
eulogy. It was simplicity, the character of the great in all things, 
the common character of true virtue as well as of real genius,, 
that, in St. Vincent do Paul, especially charmed Bossuct. 
Hence, it is to this simplicity, to this admirable simplicity of the 
holy old man that, Avith manifest feeling, he rendered testi 
mony all his life, and to which, grown old himself, he pays a 
last tribute in his letter to Clement XI. A simplicity all the 
more wonderful, since it maintained itself, and thrived in 
dealing with the world, amid the hypocrisy of a Court, in the 
windings of business, that is to say, in the midst of dissimula 
tion, deceit and duplicit} , which naturally should have withered 
and destroyed it. His simplicity was the ornament of his- 
discourses, the secret of his direction, the charm of his person, 
as also the counselor of his humility in avowals of forgetfulness 

or fault. 


Hence, he preached it Avithlove, and indignantly stigmatized 
the contrary vice. lie said: "To appear good externally, 


and to be far otherwise internally, is to do as the hypocritical 
Pharisees, it is to imitate the demon who transforms himself 
into an angel of light. And since piudencc of th;> flesh and 
hypocrisy especially reign in this corrupt ago, to the great 
prejudice of the spirit of Christianity, we cannot better 
combat and overcome them than by a veritable and sincere 
simplicity." " God is simple," he said again, or rather He is 
simplicity itself; and wherever you discover simplicity, there, 
too, you find God. And, as the AVise Man says, he, who walks 
in simplicity, walks in confidence, while, on the contrary, those, 
who make use of craft and simplicity, are in constant dread 
lest their cunning be detected, and lest others, having found out 
their dissimulation, place DO further confidence in them." 

But let us hear him in a special conference on this subject, 
given March 14th, 1G5Q: Our Savior, in sending the apostles 
to preach His Gospel throughout the world, recommended to 
them particularly this virtue of simplicity as one of the most 
important and most necessaiy to draw down upon them the 
grace of Heaven, and to dispose the hearts of those upon earth 
to hear and believe them. Now, it was not only to His apostles 
that lie spoke, but also, in general, to all those Whom His 
Providence predestined to the work of preaching the Gospel, of 
instructing and converting souls. Consequently, it is to us 
Jesus Christ spoke and recommended this virtue of simplicity 
so agreeable to God. And Ills communication is with the 
simple. (Prov. iii., ;52.) Imagine, my brothers, what a con 
solation, and wha ( ; a happiness for those, who are of the number 
of the truly simple, to be assured by the very word of God that 
His delight is to dwell and entertain Himself with them. 

In these words, which He addressed to God, His Father: 
" I giee thanks to Thee, Oh Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, 
because Thou hast hid these thinns from the iv ie and prudent, 
and hast revealed thm to littk ones," (Mat. xi., L 5). Our 
Lord shows us how agreeable to Him is simplicity. I acknowl 
edge. Oh, n:y Father, and I thank Thee for it, that the doctrine, 
which I have learned of Thee, and which I diffuse among men, 
is known only to the little anil simple, and that Thou permittcst 
not the wise and the prudent of the world to understand it, 
the sense and spirit of this Divine doctrine being hidden from 


Ihem. Certainly, those words/ if we reflect on them, ought to 
alarm us who run after knowledge as if all our happiness de 
pended upon it. Not but that a priest and a missionary should 
have learning, yet it should be such as is required to satisfy the 
duties of his ministry and not to content his ambition and his ca 
riosity. He should study and acquire knowledge, but soberly, as 
the Apostle says. There arc others who plume themselves on 
their understanding everything, and who wish to pass fcr persons 
accomplished, clever, and capable in all things. These, too, 
as well as all the learned and wise in the knowledge of the 
world, arc of the number of those from whom God takes away 
the understanding of the truths and virtues of Christianity. 
To whom, then, does He give the understanding of His truths 
and His doctiine? To the simple, to the artless, and more 
frequently, even to the poor people, as is verified by the differ 
ence remarked in the faith of the poor people in the country 
and Unit of persons in high life. For my part, I can say a 
long experience has proved to me that a lively and practical 
faith, and a true spirit of religion are more ordinarily found 
among the poor and among the simple. God takes a pleasure 
in enriching them with a fervent faith; they believe and relish 
the words of eternal life which Jesus Christ left us in His 
Gospel; we see them, generally, bear patiently their sicknesses, 
their privations and their other afflictions without murmuring 
and even without complaining, save little and rarely. 
comes this? It is because God is pleased to infuse into them, 
in abundance, the gift of faith and all othar graces, whilst He 
refuses them to the rich and wise of the world. 

"Add to this that all love simple and candid persons, who use 
neither cunning nor deceit, who act ingeniously and speak 
sincerely, and whose lips, thus, are ever in accord with their 
hearts. " They are everywhere esteemed and loved, even at 
Court when met with; and in all well regulated communities 
every one bears them affection and places confidence in them. 
And what is very remarkable, even those, who do not possess 
either candor or simplicity in their speech or their thought, love 
it in others. Let us strive, then, my brethren, to become 
pleasing in the sight of God by the practice of this virtue, and 
iraitatc & lliosc in the litile congregation, who, by the grace of 
God, give ns in this so bright an example. 


"But, to understand and appreciate the excellence of this 
virtue. AVC must know that it brings us to God. and, by produc 
ing conformity, renders us like to Him, He being but simple 
spirit, find His essence admitting no composition. Hence, 
what God is by essence we ought to be by means of this virtue 
in as far as our weakness and misery will permit. We must 
have a heart simple, a mind simple, a simple intention and simple 
action; we should speak simply, act -straightforwardly, without 
dissimulation or guile, looking only to God. whom alone we 
ought to desire to please. 

"Simplicity, then, comprehends not only truth and puiity of 
intention, but it possesses, moreover, a certain property of re 
moving us from all deceit, cunning and duplicity. And, as it is 
principally in the use of words that this virtue manifests itself, 
it obliges us to declare with the tongue just as it is in the heart, 
speaking and uttering what we have to say, simply, and with the 
pure intention of pleasing God. Yet simplicity, notwithstand- 
ing all this, does not oblige us to disclose all our thoughts ; for 
this virtue is discreet, and it is never in opposition to pru 
dence, which discerns what is good to say from what is improper, 
and knows when to observe silence and when to speak. If, for 
instance, I advance a proposition, good in its substance and 
good in all its circumstances, I ought to express it simply as it 
is ; but if, among the things I have to say, some improper or 
useless circumstance is met with, it must be omitted; and. in o-en- 


eral, those things should not be said which are known to be 
against God or our neighbor, or which tend to our own praise, 
or aim at some carnal or temporal gratification, for otherwise 
we would sin, at one and the same time, against many other 

In regard to simplicity in action, it is of .such a nature that 
it acts openly, straightforwardly, and keeps God always in view, 
whether in business transactions, or daily avocations, or ordin 
ary exercises of piety, rejecting all hypocrisy, all artifice, and 
all vain pretence. For instance, a person makes another a pres 
ent, pretending it is through affection, and yet he gives the pres 
ent solely in expectation of receiving something of more va vn 
from the oil:er. Though, according to the sp rit oftLc world, 
that seems to be permittee 1 , it is nevertheless opposed to tit vir- 


luc of simplicity, which cannot suffer a pretending of one thing 
whilst meaning another. For, as this virtue induces us to speak 
according to our interior convictions, so, too, does it cause us to 
act with candor and Christian rectitude, and do all for God, 
Who is the sole end it has in view ; whence wo must infer that 
this virtue does not reside in those who, through human respect, 
desire to appear oilier than they arc, nor in those who do good 
externally that they may be esteemed virtuous, who keep a num 
ber of superfluous books that they may be regarded as learned, 
who study to preach well in order to obtain applause and praise; 
nor, nnal y, iu those who have other than the proper motives 
in. their exercises and practices of piety. Now. I ask you, my 
Brethren, is not this virtue of simplicity beautiful and desirable, 
and is it not just and reasonable to guard against all dissimula 
tion and artilico in word and action / But, to acquire it, we must 
practice it ; and we can become truly simple only by frequent 
acts of simplicity, aided, certainly, by the grace of God, which 
we should frequently ask." 

The particular and written instructions of the S.iint in regard 
to this virtue were absolutely the same as his public or spoken 
teachings. On one occasion, when sending a missionary to a 
province where the people were noted for their shrewdness, he 
gave him this advice : "You go into a country where, they 
say, the people arc for the most part clever and cunning. Now, 
if such be the case, the bc;st way to be of use to them will be 
to act with them in the greatest simplicity. For the maxims of 
the Gospel are totally contrary to the spirit of the world. 
Hence, as yon go there in the service of Our Lord, you ought 
to act according to His spirit a spirit of rectitude and simplic 
ity." To another of his priests who regulated his friendly re 
lations with cxteMis in the interest of the Congregation, and 
wished to have published what he wrote of certain persons, he an 
swered : "Ala?, sir, with what are you amusing yourself? 
Where is that simplicity of the missionary which aims directly 
at God 1 If von do not recognize any good in these persons, do 
not say you do ; but if you sec good, speak of it in order to 
honor God in them, for from Him proceeds all good. Our Lord 
reproved a man who had called Him good because his intention 
was not pure . How much more reason will He have to reprove 
you when you praise sinful men through complaisance, to gain 


their favor, or through some other temporal and imperfect end, 
though there be other motives which may be good! For lam 
convinced that you do not seek to gain the affection of any sa. t- 
as a means to promote the glory of God. But remember, God 
does not like duplicit}-, and that to be truly simple we must 
consider only Him " 

But it was in preaching, especially, that he insisted on simplic 
ity, wishing all to absolutely discard all hankering after esteem 
and praise. He said : We desire to shine and have ourselves 
spoken of ; we love to be praised, and to hear people say we 
succeed well and are doing wonders ; behold the monster, 
the infernal serpent, that conceals itself under fine pretexts and 
empoisons, with its deadly venom, the hearts of those who lis 
ten to it! O, accursed Pride! What good dost them corrupt and 
destroy! Of what evil art thou the cause! Thou makes i the 
preacher preach himself, and not Jesus Christ, and thus, instead 
of edifying, he destroys and ruins. I was present to-day at the 
instruction that a prelate gave the ordiuands ; after which, go 
ing to his room, I said to him : My lord, you have to-day 
converted me. He answered: How is that? Because, I re 
joined, you have spoken, in what you said, so plainly and so 
simply, that it seemed to me very touching, and I could not re 
frain from thanking God. Ah, sir! he replied, I must con 
fess to you with equal candor that I might casiby have said some 
thing more polished and more elevated ; but had I done so, I 
would have offended God. See, gentlemen, the sentiments of 
the prelate, sentiments which nil those, who truly seek God, and 
desire to procure the salvation of souls, should possess, and then, 
I can assure you, God will not fail to bless what you sa}*, and 
give force and power to your words. Yes. God will be with 3*011, 
and will operate in you, for He delights in the company of the 
simple. He assists them and He blesses their labor and enter 
prises. On the contrary, it would be an impiety to think that 
God would wish to favor or aid :v person who seeks the glory 
men give and who nourishes himself on vanity, as do those who 
preach themselves, and who, in their sermons, speak neither 
with simplicity nor with humilit} . For, how can it be said that 
God would desire to assist a person in destroying himself? Such 
a thought cannot enter the mind of a Christian Oh, if you 


knew how great an evil it is to intrude oneself into the office of 
preacher for the purpose of preaching otherwise than Jesus 
Christ has preached, otherwise than have preached the Apostles 
and many great Saints and servants of God, and still do preach, 
you would be horror-stricken! God knows, thr.t three times, 
during three consecutive days, I knelt before a priest, who then 
was, but now is not. of the Congregation, to beg of him, with 
all the earnestness J j ossibly could, to preach and speak with 
simplicity, and to follow the directions that were given him. but 
I never could induce him to consent. He gave the instructions 
of the Ordination but produced no fruit; and all that beautiful 
collection of thought and selected periods went oil in smoke, 
for, in truth, it is not the pomp of words that profits souls, but 
.simplicity and humility, which draw down and instil info the 
;h<Mrts of men the grace of Jesus Christ. And if we will recognize 
.-and confess the truth, what is therein us to attract all these o-cn- 


rtlenven, the ordinancls, the theologians, the bachelors and licen 
tiates oi Sorbounc an;l Navarre, who come here? It is not the 
.learning nor the doctrine which we offer them, for they have 
more than we. Xo; but it is the humility and, simplicity in 
which, by the grace of God, we act towards them. They come 
;here only to learn virtue : when once they see its light grow 
dim i i us they will withdraw. Hence, we ought to desire and 
\n c,j~ to Go>l that He may be pleased to grant the grace to ail 
the Congregation, and to each one of us in particular, to act 
simply and plainly, and to preach the truths of the Gospel in 
the way Our Lord has taught them, that thus, all may under 
stand tham. and each one profit by what we say." 

He said to those who preferred a more elevated and ornate 
style to simplicity and familiarity : Why all this vain display ! 
Docs any one desire to show himself an elegant rhetorician? a 
learned theologian? Strange! he, surely, takes the wrong way, 
Perchance, he may be esteemed by a certain class of persons 
who hardly understand anything about it; but to acquire the es 
teem of the wise, and to win the reputation of being an eloquent 
speaker, he must know how to persuade his auditory to embrace 
what he desires, and to dissuade it from what he wishes it to 
void. But that does not consist in a daint} choice of words 
nd rounded periods, in an unusual manner of expressing the 
subtlety of his conceptions, and in delivering his discourse in an 


elevated and dramatic tone of voice, which overshoots the mark. 
Do such preachers attain their end ? Do they strongly persuade 
the love of piety? Are the people touched, and is the confes 
sional crowded? And yet such is the supposed aim of thesu 
great preachers! But here is their real object: to acquirer 
name, to have it said: Truly, that man declaims well; he is elo 
quent; he has beautiful thoughts and he expresses them agree 
ably. Behold to what the fruit of their sermons amounts ! You 
then ascend the pulpit not to preach God, hut yourselves, and, 

oh, -\\-hat a crime! you make use of a thing so holy as the word 

of, God to* nourish and cherish your vanity! Oh, my Divine 


He then went on to answer the objections: "We will forfeit 
all honor and esteem by this too simple and too trivial a 
method." Ami he answered: You will thereby lose your 
honor! Oh! in preaching as Jesus Christ has preached, yon 
will lose your honor! What ! to speak of God as the Son of 
God has spoken of Him is to lose one s honor! Oh! Jesus 
Christ, the word of the Father had, tben, no honor! To deliver 
sermons with simplicity, in familiar language as our Lord has 
done, is to have no honor! To do otherwise is to bo a man of 
honor! To weigh down the word of God with affectation and 
to cloak it with a mask is to have honor! Oh, my Divine Savior! 
Oh, gentlemen! To say that we lose our honor in preaching 
the Gospel as Jesus Christ has preached it! I would just as soon 
say that Jesus Christ, He, Who is eternal wisdom, did not know 
exactly how to manage His speech, that He did not very well 
understand himself! Oh, what a blasphemy! 

In this connection, he said again: "As things of natural 
beaut} possess far more attraction than those that are painted 
and artificial, so. simple a .id familiar discourse is better received 
and finds a more favorable acceptance with minds than those 
that are affected and labored." 

Ho exercised his children in this si-.r.ple style of preaching 
and practiced it himself even in his old age. Each one. in his 
turn, had to speak before him. la the evening he gave on 
account of the sermon, and had it analyzed publicly by the 
chief members of the community. When any showed 
research and studious care he took pleasure in pointing out the 


vanity dispkiyed therein and then he concluded in his ordinarj r 
charity: "Believe me, sir; try to preach as Jesus Christ has 
done. Tliis Divine Savior could, had he so desired, have said 
marvellous things concerning our most sublime mysteries, and 
with conceptions and terms corresponding, being, as He was, 
the Word and the Wisdom of His Eternal Father. And, 3~et, 
we know in what manner he preached, simply and humbly, in 
order to accommodate Himself to the people, and to give us a 
model and a method how to treat His holy word." 

Wiien lie was sending the ecclesiastics of his conference on a 
ft ission in the Faubourg St. Germain, these latter took the liberty 
to represent to him that there was a great difference between, a 
mission given in a city, and a city like Paris, and missions in the 
.country. With different cnemie?, different arms, the}- said to 
."him; and this simple and familiar language which succeeds with 
-the country people, would, here, excite onty laughter and 
ridicule. "What is that I just heard, gentlemen ?" interrupted 
"Vincent, "behold words insphed by human prudence, and, 
r.perhaps, by self-love. You, then, wish to destroy the power of 
the cross by relying on means purely natural Believe me, the 
method which God has blessed in your mission to the country 
people is the only one He will bless in the mission you wish to 
umlcrti ke. You go to combat the spirit of the world, which is 
A spirit of pride, and you will overcome it only by attacking it 
in the spirit of Jesus Christ, which is a spirit of simplicity and 
humility. Like this Divine Savior, seek not your own glory, 
but the glory of His father; after His example, be ready to 
suffer contempt, and, if need be, contradiction and persecution. 
In speaking the language which the Son of Got! has spoken, it 
will not be you who speak but Jesns Christ through you. Thus, 
vou will merit to become the instruments of that mercy which 
alone touches hearts the most obdurate and converts souls the 
most rebellious." 

Let us terminate this chapter with the admirable letter the 
Saint wrote to Mr. Martin, Superior in Turin, who was anxious 
to inaugurate, with some grand mission, his ministry in Piedmont, 
"Oh. no, my dear sir," Vincent immediately wrote to him, 
you must, on the contrary, begin by some little mission that 
\vi ll have no great show. To commence so meanly will seem 


to you unfortunate; for, to acquire esteem we ought, it seems, 
come out a little by a complete and splendid mission which 
will, at once, display all the fruits of the spirit of the congrega 
tion. May God preserve me from the thought of such a desire! 
AVhat conforms to our poverty and to the spirit of Christianity 
is to fly all ostentation, and love letircment, is to seek contempt 
and humiliation as Jesus Christ has done; and when we have 
this resemblance to Him He will labor for us. The late Bishop 
of Geneva undcislood this well. The first time that he 
preached in Paris, on the occasion of the last visit he made, the 
people flocked to hear him, from all quarters of the city; the 
Court was present, and all. who could render an audience 
worthy so celebral ed a preacher, were present. Every one ex 
pected a discourse befitting the power of that genius by which 
he was accustomed to rivet th^ attention of all. But what did 
this great man of God do? He simply recited the life of St. 
Martin, and he did this on purpose to abase himself before so 
many illustrious personages, whose presence alone would have 
aroused the enthusiasm of any other preacher. He was the 
first to profit from his sermon by reason of this heroic act of 
humility. He related this, shortly after the occurrence, to 
Madam do Chantal and myself. lie said to us: Oh, how I 
h: ve mortified our sisters. They were sure that I would be won- 
drously eloquent before such good company. Durirg the 
sermon a gill said: - Just look at the mountaineer, how poorly he 
speaks! It was well worth his while to come so far to say 
what he says, and weary the patience of so many! This is 
how the saint repressed nature which loves distinction and re 
nown; it is thus we should do, preferring the common and lowly 
to great and important occupations, preferring abjection to 
honor. I hope, indeed, that } ou and those of your house will 
build 14)011 this holy practice as a foundation, so that your 
edifice may be established upon the rock, and not upon moving 




Vincent did not, any more than the Gospel does, separate 
simplicity from prudence: two virtues equally necessary to 
each other, and which he practiced in the same degree of per 
fection. His prudence and his wisdom obtained for him 
universal confidence. During his entire life, St. Lazarus was 
known as the house of the Seer, and people cameto consult him 
on all affairs pertaining either to Church or State, to the public 
in general or to private individuals. During half a century 
there was nothing of importance done in France, whether in the 
political, or religious order, without his participation or his 
counsel. In the height of the civil troubles he was equally es 
teemed and consulted by both parties, by the Court, and by 
the Princes, by the adherents of Mazarin and by the Frondists. 
In the troubles of Jansenism he again it was to whom they 
addressed themselves, and to his prudent intervention is princi 
pally due the triumph of truth, the preservation of faithful com 
munities, and the return to the faith of a number of the 
secederi. The nuncios, Bagni and Piccolomini, were accus 
tomed to seek his advice in relation to important questions 
concerning the Church of France, and even the Universal 
Church. Bishops, abbots, directors of souls, submitted to him 
their most serious and most delicate affairs. Heads of 
religious orders, superiors of communities sought his concur 
rence for the reformation of their orders and of their houses; or 
again, an individual religious, a simple novice would consult 


him on his vocation, or his change of state. Numbers of 
pastors, of priests, proposed to him the difficulties of their 
rainistiy, or of their conscience. Great lords and noble ladies left 
to him the decisions of their projects for the glory of God, the 
solace of their neighbor, or their own sanctitication. There 
was not a generous soul, not a famil}-, not a community in which 
his prudent action was unfelt; not u reunion for a good object 
of which he was not the inspiration and the guide. 

AVhence cams this universal recourse to him? No doubt, from 
his reputation for sanctity; from the confidence placed in the 
grace attached by God 1 o his intervention ; but also Irom the knowl 
edge of his natural and acquired prudence. For he was ... wise 
man by excellence, a man, possessing in an eminent degree that 
good sense which Bossuet terms the master of human life; and 
consequently, he was a man always keeping himself in that 
middle where the true and the good have fixed their throne, 
preserving himself witn equal care from both extremes 
which end in error and ill success. Even the pretext of good 
could not deceive his prudence. From necessity he had origi 
nated the adage: "The better is the enemy of the good." for 
that was among his maxims. He said again: "The human 
mind is active and restless. The most enlightened arc not 
always the best, if they be not, as well the most circumspect. 
"We walk safely when we do not depart from the path trodden 
by the majority of the wise." 

He founded his prudence en God, whose will he was careful 
to consult in everything; on Jesus Christ, whose lessons and 
examples he studied, in order to conform his counsel and his 
conduct to the virtue ot a holy analogy, ever asking himself: 
"What would Our Lord have said, or done in like circum 
stances, or in such a difficulty?" 

There is a time to speak and a time to keep silsnce" the 
Divine Wisdom has said. Vincent had learned it and practiced 
it. None knew better how to maintain silence, when speech 
would either violate a secret, wound charity, compromise an 
affair, or when it was simply useless. He knew how to listen, a 
virtue rare, though necessary, without ever interrupting. In 
terrupted himself, he instantly 1 speaking; but, as nothing 
could bend his indexible wisdom, the interruption once ended he 
resumed the thread of his discourse and went straight to his. 


point. His speech was slow from hnbit of reflection. His reas 
onings were pure, clear, and convincing, expressed in terms 
plain and precise, animated with a gentle warmth, and carried 
persuasion to the heart while convincing the mind. If he spoke 
the first, he unraveled and explained the question with such 
order and precision, such depth and reach, that each one, even 
the most clever, said to himself. -That is it, % an homage to his 
infallible good sense. Moreover, good sense taught him to adapt 
himself to all styles and all language, according to the minds he 
dealt with, so that the man of moderate parts believed himself 
his equal, whilst the highest genius did not find him his inferior. 
And this was because he had the power of discernment in 
men as well as in doctrine and affairs. He immediately per 
ceived the ability of each one, and adjusted his language and 
conduct in accordance. He divined the strong and the weak, the 
good and the bad qualities of all. and he knew how to regulate 
thereupon their position and their occupation. In everything 
he distinguished the true from the false, the good from the bad, 
the better from the less good, tinder appearances the most de 
ceptive, or the most clearly hypocritical. 

This is what made his direction so sure, his decision so infal 
lible, his action, when once he had formed his mind, so firm and 
so resolute. "When consulted, he sometimes was slow to an 
swer, for he, himself, required to previously consult God and 
the wise; but the answer which he finally gave was stamped 
with the mark of wisdom and experience. 

He was, likewise, slow to resolve and undertake, always in 
virtue of that good sense which felt the need of previously pen 
etrating and combining the nature, the means, and the end in all 
things. His children, paiticularly the younger, used to com 
plain to him of it, and he ordinarily answered as he did on the 
7th of December, 1U41. in the following letter, addressed to Mr. 
Codoing. Superior of the Mission at Annecy: "You will object 
that I am too slow, that you have to wait sometimes six months 
for an answer that might be given within a month, and that, 
meanwhile, the occasions pass, all lemains stationary. To 
which, sir, I answer that it is true: I arn too long a time in an 
swering, and in doing things; but, notwithstanding, I have never 
yet seen any affair spoiled by my delay; on the contrary, every- 

J Kl/DKNCK. 241 

thing- has been done in its good time, and with the necessary 
foresight and precaution. Still, I purpose, for the future, to an 
swer your letters as soon as possible after their receipt, and after 
having considered the thing before God, who is greatly honored 
by the time we take to weigh matin ely what conceins His ser 
vice. You will, then, in your turn correct yourself, if you 
please, of your promptness in resolution and action, and I will 

labor to correct my negligence Will I dare tell yon. 

sir, without blushing? . . . There is no remedy; I must. It is 
thus, that, reviewing all the principal things that have been done 
in this congregation, it seems to mo, and it is easily demonstrat 
ed, that had they been done before they were, they would not have 
been so well done. I say this of all, without a single exception. 
And this is why I have a special devotion to following, step by 
step, the adorable Providence of God. and the sole consolation 
I have is, that it seems to me it is our Lord alone Who has done, 
and constantly does, all in this little Congregation." 

He was then the friend of slowness, or rather, the enemy of 
precipitation. This wns an effect of his prudence. This slow 
ness had, moreover, as a cruise, his fear of going in opposition to 
God, the desire of being assured of His concurrence, and the 
need he felt of never laying the foundation of a work without 
the certainly, or, at least, the probable hope, of being able to 
carry it to completion. From this arise the vxise combination, 
the continuance and permanence of all his woiks. 

But. once assured of the Divine AVill and of the resources of 
His Providence, nothing had the power to stay him. He was 
dismayed neither at the number nor the difficulties of the under 
takings. He followed them with a force of mind and an intrep 
idity of courage that no obstacles could weaken, whether they 
carne from persons or things, from the combination of the ele 
ments or of human passions. He r.pplied himself with a eagac- 
ity full of order and light; he sustained the burden, the trouble, 
the (U hiys, with a calm that came from a holy security, with a 
perseverance which he derived from his -religious certainty of suc 

His v/as a soul truly superior in its admirable prudence, whose 
passions did not, as with most men, arise to disarrange his cal 
culations; whose virtue, on the contrary, inspired, directed, 
and brought to a successful termination all his projects. 


Such ha has shown himself in the establishment and guidance 


of the Congregations of the Missionaries and the Daughters of 
Charity, to which he gave rules only after twenty-five and even 
thirly-thrce years, wishing therein to imitate Oar Lord, Who be 
gan to d) before He tanght,and also, to a void the inconveniences 
of premature Constitutions. Hence there was nothing unfore 
seen, nothing provisional, and consequently, nothing to be re. 
formed in these rules; nothing that did not have existence iu 
fact before being formulated in words, nothing which weakness 
or cowardice can tax as impracticable or eve;i dim* ..-u! t. 

Such, too, he showed himself in the Council of Conscience, 
where, with an admirable wisdom, lie veered amid so many in. 
trigues and ambitions, where lie knew how to reform so many 
abuses, where he succeeded in conciliating things often the most 
incompatible, namely, the interests of the Court and of individ- 
als with the superior interests of the Church. 

Such, in fine, he showed himself when obliged to admonish, 
to reprehend, or to correct. His prudence knew how to suit 
itself to character and circumstance, so as not to dishearten 
pusillanimity or to push pride to revolt, so as not to wound 
either the dignity of the person or the charity due to secret 
faults. Mr. Soure, pastor of St. John en Grove, exiled to Com- 
piegne, wrote to him on the 17th of August. 1059, to obtain infor 
mation concerning a priest who formerly belonged to the Mis 
sion, and to whom hu wished to confide for a time the care of 
hi- parish. "Sir," Vincent answered him. " I donot su.lbiently 
know the ecclesiastic whom you mention ?o give any recommen 
dation, though he did cuter and leave our Congregation twice. * 
Messrs. I ortail, d Horgni and Almeras. who were present when 
he dictated this letter, observed to him that this pastor would 
have reason to be surprised if he wrote that he did not know 
well enough a priest who had been twice under him. >! see 
that very clearly," replied Viacent, "but Oar Lord, though He had 
a perfect knowledge of all classes of persons, has. nevertheless, to some, I know you not; and he will say the same on 
the Day of Judgment because he does not know with approving 
knowledge." What is most to be admired hero, his charity or 
his prudence . 

Vincent sometimes employed no less |,rudcnt addivss than 
persevering zeal in his elforls with ecclesiastics who were sns- 

l-KTJDENCE. 243 

peeled in matters of Until. One, learned, a great preacher, of 
aristocratic family, often came to see him. Sir," the Saint 
one day said to him, -as you are learned and eloquent I want 
to a-k an advice. In our missions in the country it happens 
that we find persons who do not believe the truths of our holy 
religion, and we do not know how to go about convincing them, 
what must we do in such circumstances?" " Why do you ask 
me that." replied the abbe with feeling. "Because, sir, the 
poor apply to the rich in their necessities, and, as we are but 
1 oor, ignorant persons, \ve have recourse to yon who are rich in 
knowledge." Flattered and reassured, the abbe enumerated 


the proofs of religion Seriptmes, the fathers, reasoning, the 
common consent of peoples and of a_;es, the testimony of the 
martyrs, miracles, etc. -Very good, sir." returned Vincent. 
" Reduce all that to writing, I beseech you, simply and with 
out study, and send it to me." Two or three days after the 
abbe himself brought tlie writing. "Thank } on. sir," said 
Vincent. It is a singular pleasure for me to see you with 
such good sentiments, and to learn the fact from yourself. 
For. besides the profit 1 will derive from this paper myself, it 
will serve me for your justification. You will, with difiiculty, 
believe it, but it is, nevertheless, true, that certain parties are 
persuaded, and say you have not proper ideas in regard to 
things of faith. Complete, then, sir, what you have so well 
begun, and, ai ier having so worthily defended the faith in your 
writing, profess it by an edifying life. You are all the more 1 
obliged as you are a man of rank; for it is with virtue joined to 
birth as with a precious stone. V/hen the stone is enchased in 
gold it is incomparably more dazzling than when set in lead. 
This manner of action and these words had their effect, and 
Vincent had tie consolation of seeing the abbe enter into 
himself and persevere in his holy resolutions. 

To prudence he joined respect, ingenuity, and. at times, 
courter-\ when he had a wise advice to give to bishops. A 
bishop, one of his friends had sc\cral times protected to him 
that he would never abandon his spouse, meaning his church, 
for any other no matter how beautiful or how rich; and in pledge 
of hi> fidelity he showed him his pastoral ring, saying: 7f I forget 
thec. let my ri jM hand be forgotten." ( Ps. cxxxvi-5.) Sometime 
after the tempting offer of a rich and grand archbishopric wa 


made, and the bishop felt inclined to yield to the seduction. 
Vincent met him by chance: "My Lord," he said to him 
after the compliments of the day weve passed, and with his eyes 
fixed on the bishop s hand. i pray you remember your ring." 
"Ah! Mr. Vincent," answered the bishop, " you catch me 
there. " 

We must not forget to mention with what a happy union of 
prudence and humility he extricated himself, on his journey to 
Mans in 1649, from the embarrassment he was occasioned by 
the presence in the city of the Bishop. Lavardin de lieaumanoir, 
the very one about whose consecration, for an unthinking 
word, so many ridiculous fables were invented after his death. 
Far from being of service to him in the council, Vincent had 
opposed his promotion to the episcopacy Lavardin knew it, 
had frequently complained of it, and even bitterly. Judge, 
then, the surprise, and the delicate position of the servant of 
God when he learned that this prelate, who had not yet received 
the bulls, was alreacty at Mans! How was he to act towards 
the bishop? It was unbecoming to leave without seeing him, 
dangerous to see him without previously preparing him, impo 
lite to ask him if he would receive a visit. " If I <>o to salute 
him," said the Saint, -very likely he will be surprised, and. 
perhaps, touched and moved; if I send to inquire whether he 
would be pleaded with a visit I do not know how he will receive 
the compliment; if I neither go nor send, this good lord will 
have reason to be still more incensed against, me, and this must 
be avoided. What. then, is to be done?" 

The humility of the Saint came to his rescue. The very 
next morning lie ?cn: two of his priests, the superior t_f the 
seminary and another priest, to inform the bishop, thai", 
having ariived in his diocese the previous evening, he did 
not dare I o make any delay \rithout his permission, and he 
very Himbly besoiight him to be pleased that he remain seven 
or eight days in the house of the seminary. 

This compliment on the part of a man whose rectitude 
and .sincerity Lavardin. notwithstanding his resentment, 
knew better than any other, completely disarmed him : "Say to 
Mr. Vincent." he answered the messengers, - that he is free 


to remain in Mans as long as lie thinks fit, and that had he no 
house in my episcopal city I would take a pleasure in offering 
him mine/ 

So courteous an answer required a return of thanks. 
Vincent was preparing to go to the bishop s palace when he 
was apprised of the abrupt departure of Lavardin. 


And now wo will listen to the Saint speaking to us on 
prudence, in his conference of the 14th of March, 1659: "It 
is the duty of this virtue," he said, "to regulate and guide 
our words and actions. It makes us speak wisely and in 
proper season, directing us in our conversations f in selecting, 
with circumspection and judgment, those subjects that art- 
good in their nature and in their circumstances, suppressing 
and retaining in silence those that are against God, or that 
injure our neighbor, or that tend to self-praise or any other 
unworthy object. This virtue, again, causes us to act with 
discretion, and only after mature deliberation, and with pure 
motives in everything we do, not only in regard to the sub 
stance of the action but also its circumstances; so that the 
prudent man acts as he should, when he should, and for the 
purpose he should. On the contrary, the imprudent man 
adopts neither the proper manner, nor time, nor motive, and 
this is wherein his fault lies, whereas the prudent man, acting 
with discretion, does nil things in weight, number and 

" Prudence and simplicity tend to the same end which is to 
speak well and to do well, and all with a view to God; and, 
as the one cannot exist without the other, our Lord has 
recommended both together. I am aware that, by a distinc 
tion of reason, a difference may be found between these two 
virtues ; but they have, in reali ly, a very close connection both in 
their substance and in their object. The prudence of the flesh 
and the world, since it has for its object the quest of honors 
o! pleasures, and of riches, is diametrically opposed to 
Christian simplicity and prudence which alienate us I rom 
these deceptive goods and impel us to embrace the solid and 
enduring. They arc ns two good sisters who are inseparable, 


and are so necessary lor our spiritual advancement that he,, 
who has learned to make proper use oi them, will certainly 
amass great treasures of grace and merit. 0>ur Lord, on 
several occasions, practiced both in an excellent degree, and 
particularly when that poor woman, caught in adultery, was 
brought to Him to be condemned ; Cor, not desiring to take the 
place of judge at that time, and wishing to deliver her from 
her enemies, He said to the Jews: Let him ioho is without sin, 
amo)i(j you, cast the first stone at her." (John viii, 7). Hereini 
he practiced in an eminent degree these two virtues: simplicity, 
in the merciful design He had of saving this poor creature, and 
thus doing the will oi Kis Father, and prudence, in the manner 
He adopted to ctFcct His purpose. And so, again, when the 
Pharisees came, tempting Him. asking if it were lawful to 
give tribute to Ca3sar; for, on the onr hand, he wished to 
main rain the honor of His 1 atheiyand do nothing to the preju 
dice of His people,andon the other,IIedidnot want to put Ilinv 
sail on record as being in opposition to the lights of Caesar, nor 
to give His enemies an opportunity to publish Him as in favor- 
oi exactions and monopolies. What, then, does He answer 
them so as not to say anything out of place, and to avoid all 
surprise? He requests them to show Him fie money of the 
tribute, and, learning from the lips of the very ones who show 
it, that it is the imago of Cffisar that is engraved upon it, He 
says to them: Render, therefore, to Cucmr the things that 
are Ct.(:srir n and unlo God t ie things that are God s. 7 (Mark, 
xii, 17). Simplicity appears in this answer hi its relation 
with the intention Jesus Christ hud in His heart of teaching 
that the honor due should be given to the king of Heaven and 
the king of earth respectively; tind prudence also appears, 
since ly this answer He wisely avoids the snare these wicked 
men set to surprise Him. 

It is, then, the nature of prudence to ivj;iila!e words and 
actions; but it has, moreover, another duty, and this is the 
choice of the proper means to attain the end proposed, and 
this end being none other than God it takes the paths the 
most direct and most certain, that lead to Him. We do not 
here speak of political and worldly prudence which, aiming at 
only temporal and some limes unjust success, makes use, likewise, 

1 UUDFXCK. 247 

of but liunuin, and, therefore, very doubtful ami uncertain 
means. But we speak of that holy prudence, recommended to 
us by our Lord in the Gospel, which induces us to select the 
proper means to arrive at the end He proposes to us, and, this 
end being entirely divine, it is necessary that these means bear 
with it a relation and a proportion. Now we can choose the 
means adapted to the end we propose in two ways ; either by 
our reason alone, which is often weak enough; or, guided by 
the maxims of i aitli that Jesus Christ has taught us, which 
arc always infallible, and which we cun follow without any 
IV a r o( being deceived. Hence it is that true prudence subjects 
cur reason to these maxims, and proposes to us, as an inviola 
ble rule, to always judge of all things as our Lord has judged ; 
so that when occasions present themselves, we ask ourselves: 
( How has our Lord judged of such and such a thing? How did 
He act in such and in such circumstances ? What has He said 
and what has He done in such and such cases ? And then we 
conform our conduct to His maxims and to His examples. 
Let us, then, gentlemen, lake the resolution to act in this 
wise, and walk with assurance in the royal path wherein Jesus 
Christ will be our guide and conductor, and remember what 
He has said, that Heaven and earth will pass away but His 
words and liis truths never. Let us bless our Lord, my 
brothers, and let us endeavor to think and judge as He, and do 
all He has recommended either by word or by example. Let 
us put on His spirit in order to co-operate with Him in His 
works ; for, to do good jj is not all, we must, moreover, doit 
well, in imitation of our Lord, of whom it is said : He did all 
things well. (Mark, vii, 37). No, it is not enough to fast, to 
observe our rule?, to perform the functions of the mission ; 
we must, further, do these things in the spirit oi Jesus Christ, 
that is to say, with perfection, for the ends and objects He 
Himself has instituted. Christian prudence consists, then, in 
judging, in speaking, and in acting as thy eternal Wisdom ol 
God, clothed in our weak flesh, has judged, spoken, and 

The Saint again said: * Where human prude-no? fails and 
sees nothing, there the light; of Divine wisdom begins to 


Finally, he made his prudent slowness the rule for others: 
"The works of God are done little by little; they begin and- 
they progress. When God wished to save Xoah with his entire 
family from the delug?, He commanded him to construct an 
ark that could have been completed in a short time ; and yet r 
that he might do it little by little, He orders him to comsumo- 
a hundred years in building it. God, similarly, wishing to 
conduct and introduce the children of Israel into the Promised 
Land could have had them make the journey in a lew days,, 
yet more than forty years went by before He granted them 
the grace to enter it. Again, having the design to send His 
Sen into the world to atone for the sin of the first man, as that sin 
infected all other men, why did ho delay more than three or 
(bur thousand years ? Because He does not hurry in His 
works, and He does all things in their proper time. And, 
too, our Lord, coming upon the earth to work our redemption, 
could have come in perfect age without consuming thirty 
years in retirement, which might seem superfluous. Never 
theless, He has willed to bo born a little child and to increase 
and grow in age, just as other men, in order to approach, 
little by little, the consummation of His purpose. Did He 
not sometimes say, speaking of what He had to do, that His 
hour had not yet come? And this to teach us not to advance 
too much in. things that depend more on God than upon us, 
He could, even in His own time, have established His Church 
throughout the entire earth; yet Ho contented Himself with 
laying the foundations, leaving the rest to be done by His 
Apostles and their successors. Accordingly it is not expedient 
to wish to do everything at once and immediately, nor to 
think all is lost because everyone does not manifest an eager 
ness to co-operate with us in the little good will we have. 
What then must we do? Go on sweetly and calmly, pray to. 
Ccd a good deal, aaid act in, concert." 




Vincent regulated and ordered his justice in accordance 1 with 
the words of Our Savior: -Render, therefore, to God the 
things that are God s, and to Cresnr the things Unit are 
Ojcsar s. : 

To God, above all, ho, as a man, us a Christian, as a priest, 
faithfully rendered all the duties of religion. To men like 
wise, according to their rank and their relations with him, he 
paid every debt of justice. " Tribute to whom tribute ; cus 
tom to whom custom; i ear to whom fear; honor to whom 
honor; o\ving no man anything save charity, which he so ten 
derly exercised towards all that thus he might accomplish the 
entire law. He said to his community : - Gentlemen, let us 
care for the interests of others as well as for our own ; let us 
"be upright in our dealings, act loyally and equitably." With 
himself, justice went before every rhing else. lie wrote one 
day: " Remember particularly to pray to God for me. Yes 
terday I found myself obliged to select between two duties, 
<one to fulfill a promise I made, the other to do an act of char 
ity to one who can do us u great deal of good, or a great deal 
of harm, and unable to satisfy both. I left the act of charity 
to fulfill my promise, and the person to whom I refer is very 
much displeased. But I am not so much concerned about that 
as to having yielded too much to my inclination, as, it seems 
to me, I did in doing the act of justice." 

He scrupulously paid the debts of his community without 
waitino- to be asked : and often he had the amount sent to the 


house of the creditor. It is not just," lie used to say, "to 
give them the trouble to c^mo to demand what is legitimately 
due them." 

He largely indemnified those who had to surfer from any ac 
cident on his part, no matter how involuntarily. One day his 
coachman having upset in the mud some loaves that were in 
front of a baker s shop, he immediately uaiil for them and or 
dered them sent to St.. Lazarus. 

The. same coachman, another time, having broken a rotten 
bar that served to close a carriage entrance, he made him re 
place it with a nevr one worth four times as much. 

lie never received recompsnse for his good offices ; never es 
pecially would he cast a favor in the way of equity to arrest 
its course. In a certain large city the missionaries were threat 
ened in the possession of their establishment by some power 
ful persons, who had summoned them before the lav,-. The 
governor offered to protect them on consideration that Vincent 
would befriend him at Court. " If it be in my power to serve 
you," the Saint wrote to him, " I will do so ; but, I beseech 
you, leave the affair of the priests of the Mission in the hands 
of God and of justice to decide ; for I do not desire to be in 
any place cither by the favor or authority of men." 

Though enjoying seignoriul rights he was the enemy of dis 
cord and litigation. Yet he dispensed justice gratuitously and 
recommended that kindness and mildness should be exercised 
in his courts. He, himself, intervened whenever, for example, 
he learned (here Avas danger of dissension between any two fam 
ilies of his dom-iin, and hi.! charity rarely failed to-conciiiatc 
both interests and hearts. He dissuaded all those who coun 
selled him from trying the lav/. " A lawsuit/ he said, " is a 
morsel hard of digestion, and the very best is not worth the 
poorest accommodation." He said again : " A mutual agree 
ment in actions at law is so acceptable to God. that lie says 
to each one, Seek after peace ami pursue it. (Ps. xxxiii.15.) lie 
does not merely say we should accept this divine peace when 
offered us, but that we should seek it and run after it. 

Much less would he patronize the law either for himself or 
for his houses. lie wrote to one of his priests who had tried the 
law and had been defeated : "We have reason to <ro to law as 


little as possible ; and when forced to do so, it is only after 
having taken counsel both within and without. We prefer to 
relinquish what we have than to disedity our ncighhor." 

His conduct in suits he could not avoid was full of charity. 
If on these occasions he approached the judges or had them 
visited, it was less for the purpose of recommending to them 
his own cause than to pray them to consider only justice. 
Plaintiff and defendant at the same time, he alleged with 
out omission all that was in favor of his adversary as well as 
what availed himself. One would have suid that he was an 
impartial councilor whose interest in the case had not been se 
cured ; or rather, he was partial only towards Ms opponent, 
whose points he brought out in far stronger light than hi:- own. 
Besides, he went to see the magistrates as littb as possible. 
All solicitation appeared to him as a violence done to justice. 
A judge who fears God," he would say, "should pay no at 
tention k> any such. 1, myself, when in the Council of the 
Queen, counted all representation as nothing, contenting m y- 
self to examine if the requests were just or not." 

He spared the purse of the party opposed to him more than 
his own. Some of his priests, having an affair with certain rcn- 
iiiits who were intractable and of bad faith, begged him to pro 
cure for them a conimitiimux, in order to intimidate these men 
so addicted to chicanery. " Help yourself as best you can," 
Vincent answered. " I would be very sorry, tor my part, to 
see these poor people forced to come so far to defend them 

The inhabitants of the valley of Puiseaux wished to levy a 
tax on the little farm, of Frcsncville, which belonged to the 
Congregation, and, in spite of his friendly efforts to the con 
trary, they invoked the law. They, therefore, came to Paris. 
The Saint received them as people associated with his own 
cause. He lodged them at St. Lazarus, had them placed by his 
side in the refectory, and defrayed the expenses of their return 
home. When the suit was on the point of being decided, he 
.sent them notice that they might adduce in time their last 
arguments. In effect, they returned to Paris and betook them 
selves straightway to him as to the patron of their cause. He, 
himself, brought them to the attorney, where lie aided them to 


establish their pretended rights. Much against his will, as it 
were, they were defeated ; but he bore all the expenses of the 
proceedings, gave them their supper, once more lodged them 
1 or the night, and only allowed them to depart when he had 
put into the hands of each twenty sous for his journey home. 

When he, himself, lost a case he submitted to the decrees 
of justice as to a judgment of God. No murmur, no com 
plaint against either Providence or msn ; and he required his 
priests to imitate him in this. "Long live justice," he wrote 
on the 24th of October, 1G59, to oiu of his missionaries in 
Genoa, ; long live justice. You must believe that it is found 
in the loss of your cause. The same God Who gave you the 
good has taken it away ; blessed be His holy name! Good 
becomes evil when it is not where God wishes it to be. The 
more we resemble our Lord naked on the cross the more will 
we partake of His spirit. The more we seek, as He did, the 
kingdom of God, His Father, in order to establish it within 
ourselves and in others, the more will those things that are 
necessary for life be given us. Live in this confidence and do 
not anticipate those years of sterility of which you speak. 
Should they come and you lack either the means of subsist 
ence, or occupation, or both together, well, in flic name of the 
Lord, let thorn come. It will not be through your fault but 
by the order of Providence whose conduct is always adorable. 
Let us, then, leave to our Father in Heaven the duty of 
guiding us, and let in, whilst on earth, strive to will as He 
wills and reject what lie rejects." 

Gratitude is a pirfc of justice, for it is justice to be ren 
dered to benefactors. Vincent, who was so just, could not 
therefore, be but grateful both to God, the source of all good, 
and to men who, for us, are the channels of His mercies. 
Every morning he returned thanks to God for His glory, for 
the glory He gave His Son. for that which He gave the 
Blessed Virgin, the holy angels, the apostles and all the saints. 
He, again, thanked Him for the graces conferred upon the 
Church, on all religious orders, and particularly for those con 
ferred upon his own congregation. Finally, he thanked Him 
for the assistance given the poor, for the happy success ac- 
cordcc! the arms of the king, for the victories won by Christian 


princes over infidelity, misery, or schism ; in ;i word, for all 
events advantageous to Church or State. And as he believed 
himself unable to testify to God a complete acknowledgement, 
he invited his children, devout persons, and religious commu 
nities, to unite with him in this pious duty and would say: 
"Praise tJie Lord with me! Nothing gains the heart of God 
sooner than gratitude. We ought to employ as much time in 
thanking God for His benefits as we occupied in asking 
them." And then ho would lament over the ingratitude of 
men ; he would repeat the complaint of our Lord in reference 
to the nine lepers who did not return to thank Him. He 
strongly urged the flight from a vice which, he said, makes us 
unworthy to receive any favor either from God or men. 

He tenderly thanked God for all the gifts conferred upon 
himself ; and every year on the anniversary ot his baptism, he 
requested the aid of the homage and prayers of Ins community 
so that his thankfulness might not fall short oi the favors he 
had received from the Divine Bounty. 

Grateful towards God, he was, likewise, thankful towards all 
who had rendered any service either to himself or to his com 
munity. Always believing that none owed himself anything 
he regarded all honor, all kindness done him as a favor, and 
he poured forth his thanks with a touching humility and an 
effusion of heart. How good of you," he would say, " not 
to despise niy old age! to support a pocr miserable sinner! to 
listen to me so patiently and to suffer me in your presence! 
May God bless you ! And thus he acted towards the least of 
his brothers. One of them having procured some holy water 
for him and kneeling for his blessing, he said: Yes, my 
brother, may God bless and reward you." That was his cus 
tomary formula. " In my inability," he always said or wrote, 
" to suitably thank you, I pray God to be Himself my thanks 
and your reward." 

He acted in the same manner towards strangers, and even 
towards little children, thanking them for the slightest ser 
vice, such as having helped him to mount his horde, and he 

would blame his companion for too much coldness in his 

Still more, he considered, in example of our Lor.l, as done 


to himself what was done to the leash of those belon^ine- to 

c? o 

him, and was equally grateful. 

He was even grateful towards those who rendered no direc t 
service to either himself or his children; for instance, towards 
(he poor country farmers, who, by their labors furnished the 
clergy with the moans to live solely Tor the sanctification of 
the people. After having, one day, pictured a vivid repre 
sentation of their sufferings in the public calamities, he said: 
"Alas! my brethren, while they slave themselves thus to 
nourish us we seek the shade and take our rest. Even in the 
missions where we labor the churches shelter us from the in 
clemency of the weather; we are not exposed to the wind, or 
ruin, or to the rigors of the seasons. Surely, living thus by the 
sweat of these poor people, and on the patrimony of Jesus 
Christ, we should always reflect, in going to the refectory, 
v/hether v< 3 haA c actually deserved the food we are going to 
take. For my part, that thought often enters my mind and 
gives me great confusion. I say to myself: "Wretch! have 
you earned the bread you go to cat ? the bread you receive from 
the labor of the poor? At least, my brethren, if we do not 
gain it as they do, lot us pray to God for them, and not allow 
a day to pass that we will not offer them to our Lord that He 
may be pleased to give them the grace to make a good use of, 
their sufferings. We said, some few days ago, that God looks 
to the priests, particularly, to arrest the course of his indigna 
tion; lie expects that they will do, as Aaron did, and station 
themselves with censers in their hands between Him and these 
poor people ; or else, like Moses, they will make themselves 
intercessors to obtain a cessation of the evils they suffer for 
their ignorance and their sins, evils they, perhaps, would not 
have had to undergo had they received the necessary instruction 
and had care been taken of their religious welfare. To these 
poor, then, v/a should render these offices of charity as much 
to satisfy the duty o? our condition as to manifest gratitude 
for the benefits we receive from their labors. Whilst they 
struggle against want and all the misfortunes that encompass 
them we must, like Moses, ^constantly raise our hands to 
Heaven for them ; and if thev suffer for their sins and igno- 

^v. ^ 

ranee, we ought to be their intercessors with the Divine Mercy, 


for charity obliges us to give them a helping hand to withdraw 
them from their misfortunes; and, moreover, if we do not oc 
cupy ourselves, even were it to cost us our lives, in instructing 
them and assisting them in their perfect conversion to God, 
\ve become, in .some manner, the cause of all the evils they 

Much more did be manifest a lively gratitude towards his 
personal benefactors and those of his -congregation. 

His voyage from Maine to Anjoti, in 1619, was signalized 
by two remarkable instances of gratitude! Tbc young mis 
sionary, who accompanied him and had rescued him i rom a. 
very great danger whilst crossing a, river that was much 
swollen, little by little grew tepid, and less and less observant 
of rule, and his superiors soon found him indocile. Finally,, 
tired of the yoke, he wished to cast it; off entirely, and, not 
withstanding all the ordinary efforts of Vincent, to retain him 
in his vocation, he left. 

At the end of a year he repented, and like the prodigal son 
he cried out: " I will rise and go to my father/ He there 
upon wrote to Vincent letter after letter, asking pia don and 
beseeching him to receive him among the number of his most 
humble servants, if not of his children. 

Both to try him, and from repugnance to receive anew those 
who once had lefr, Vincent, for long, failed to answer. The 
missionary multiplied his letters and redoubled his importuni 
ty: - I am forever lost, my father, unless you reach me out a 
helping hand." At this, Vincent responded, not, however, 
to grant him his request, but to lay before his eyes the fault 
he had committed, and the impossibility of again receiving 

Repulsed in all hisassaults.and exhausted in methods of at 
tack ho tried a final effort against the side the most accessible, 
and the most vulnerable of the heart of Vincent : Sir/ he 
wrote him, I once saved the life of your body, save DOAV that 
of my soul! This opened the breach. Come, sir " was he* 
immediately answered, " come and you will be welcomed with 
open arms." It was not, hoAvever, into the Congregation of tho> 
Mission on earth, according to Vincent s beautiful expression, 
but into that of Heaven, that he was to enter.. On. the 


of setting out, he fell sick and died, full of the hope lie found 
in repentance and in the generous pardon so graciously accord 
ed him. 

The second instance is no less touching. On getting out of 
the water St. Vincent entered the iarm house of the Goualerie 
to dry his clothes. Always at home among the poor, he entered 
into conversation with the farmer and learned that he was af 
flicted with rupture- which caused him cruel torments. The holy 
priest, whom God had cured of a like evil, promised him, as 
soon as he returned to Paris, to send him a certain bandage 
that Avould give him instant relief. After having paid his 
host of the moment most liberally, and thanked him for the 
hospitality of his cottage with mere earnestness than he would 
a noblemen for the hospitality of his castle he resumed his 
journey. Mis travelling was prolonged far beyond his calcu 
lations or desires. Nevertheless, he has scarcely set foot in 
Paris when he recalls his host and his promise. He sends the 
bandage and adds a letter wherein he reiterates all hia thanks. 
And, as there was no sure way of reaching the poor peasant, 
he addresses all to the lady of the Marshall of Schomberg. of 
whose lands the Goualerie formed a portion, with the request 
to co-operate in the good work and recommend the peasant 
to the good will of her people. 

Loving, esteeming those belonging to him more than him 
self he could not entertain less grateful feelings for the bene 
factors of his houses. 

lie provided for the support, and settled for the rent of a 
poor woman for twenty-five, or thirty years, because ehe had 
nursed one or two of the plague-stricken of St. Lazarus. 

The Jesuit Fathers of Bar had received into their house a 
missionary of Lorraine. He died with them and was buried 
in their church. Touched Avitii this hospitality accorded to 
his child whilst living and when dead, the saint gave his 
community, for subject of conference, the necessity of gratitude. 
I feel two things within me, he said, "gratitude and in 
ability to refrain from praising the good." 

Even those, to whose generosity obligations were atfeached, 
did not find him wanting in gratefulness. " \Vc must nor on 
that account," he said, "fail to show ourselves vcrv thankful 


and pray to God for them as for our benefactors. We see that 
the Church, even, has had such a feeling of gratitude for her 
benefactors as to relax her discipline in their favor, granting to 
lay persons the right of patronage, such as we see existing in 
many places, though this right belongs to the Church alone. Why 
has she done this if it be not to prove her gratitude for those 
who have benefited her?" 

A doctor of the Sorbonne, named Louis Calon, had given a 
considerable sum to the Congregation, and finished by found 
ing a house of the Mission at Aumale, the place of his birth. 
Exhausted by labor, penance and mortification, more than from 
old r.gc, he retired to Vernon, to the children of St. Francis, 
who received him a-> an apostle and as an emulator of their pov 
erty. About a year before his death, Aug. 28th, 1G4G, Vincent 
de Paul, who learned of his destitution and the desire he 
had of going to St. Lazarus, wrote to him: I thank God for 
the hope you give us of soon seeing you here, where you may 
take your rest after your great labors. Oh, sir, how welcome 
you will be, and with what joy I will embrace you ! Cdlne, 
then, and, I beg of 3-011. do not delay. And I can assure you, 
we will take a very special care of your health, and you will be 
the master of all in the house, saying and doing just as you de 
sire, but particularly will 3 r ou have all power over me, who ever 
loved you with greater tenderness than I did my own father. 
If you need the four thousand irancs with which you endowed 
the religious of St. Bernard, but which are appropriated to the 
Mission, we will with pleasure return them to 3 r ou; it being but 
just, it seems to me, that a founder who is in want should re 
ceive assistance out of the revenue of the foundation he made. 
We will do more, for if you have need of the principal to main 
tain 3-ourself in 3 T our old age, we will restore it to you, as we 
did to the pastor of Vernon. He gave us a revenue of six hun 
dred francs, and afterwards, believing himself in want, requested 
its return, and we gave up both the income and the fund. But 
if you do not desire the principal, still, sir, cnjo3 r the rent as you 
have done up to the present and we will continue the Missions 
which you have commenced and maintained with such bless 
ings." But the children of St. Francis did not wish Mr. Calon 
to have recourse to the disinterestedness of thehol3 T priest; thc3 r 
retained him with pleasure, and closed his eyes in death. 


Vincent ahva3 r s acted in. this manner towards the founders of 
his establishments and the benefactors of his Congregation. In 
September, 1654, he wrote to one of his priests: -We can 
never be sufficiently thankful, nor grateful enough to those 
who have founded our establishments. God has lately given us 
the grace to offer to a founder of one of our houses the money 
that he donated, because I believed him in want; and it seems 
to me I would have been greatly consoled had he accepted. 
And I believe that, in that case, the Divine Goodness itself 
would have been our founder and would not have permitted us 
to want. But even, were that not to happen, what a joy, my 
dear sir, would it not be to impoverish ourselves to relieve him 
who had wished to benefit us? God has already given us the 
grace to do this once, having actually restored to a benefactor 
(the pastor of Vernon) what he conferred upon us; and every 
time I revert to it I feel an unspeakable joy and consolation." 
And, the year following he wrote to a benefactor whom he im 
agined to be in straightened circumstances: I beg you to 
use the property of the Congregation as your own. AV r e arc 
roadv to sell all we have, even our chalices, to assist you. In 
this we would only do what the holy canons ordain, namely, to 
return to our benefactor in his need what he gave us in his 
abundance. I say this, sir, not for form s sake, but in the pres 
ence of God and as I feel it in the bottom of my heart. 

In 1G54, the Cardinal de Retz succeeded in escaping from his 
prison in Nantes, and fled to Rome. Son of the General of the 
Galleys, pupil of Vincent de Paul, Retz, even amid his intrigues, 
his political escapades, and gallantries, always showed himself 
the protector of St. Lazarus, and St. Lazarus, grateful as its 
founder, was inclined to sustain Retz in his disgrace. Vincent 
de Paul, without money, owing to the condition of the Congre 
gation at that time and of France, borrowed three thousand 
francs to send the Cardinal. Retz, knowing the straightened 
circumstances of St. Lazarus, refused. He then was offered 
at least personal service. The Missionaries of Rome, therefore, 
received the proscribed Cardinal; but on whose order, and under 
what circumstances, and at what cost, the following letter, 
written to Ozenne, in Genoa, the 12th of 31 arch, 1655, will show: 
"Our house in Rome is in distress, as you ma} have learned by 


the Gazette of that Court. And the reason is because, by order 
of the Pope, they received the Cardinal do Retz, before they 
were aware of the King s prohibition to have any intercourse 
with him. The King, displeased at this act of obedience to the 
Pope and of gratitude to our archbishop, has had orders sent 
to Mr. Berthe and the other French priests to leave Home and 
return to France. They have done so, and Mr. Berthe is now 
in France, or on the point of arriving, and through pure obedi 
ence. The affair may turn out us God pleases; but it is better 
to forfeit all than lose the virtue of gratitude." 

We have elsewhere recounted what the affectionate gratitude of 
Vincent did for Adrian le Bon, the former prior of St. Lazarus. 
A part of this gratitude was exercised towards the old religious 
of St. Lazarus. Vincent desired that they be granted as 
much as conscience would permit, and made participants in 
the good works of the Congregation. "All our little merits," 
he said, "come from their gifts." lie himself gave tlie example, 
and on ever} occasion showed them both in word and deed a sing 
ular deference. The sub-prior having been prostrated by a con 
tagious disease, then prevalent at St Lazarus, he went to see 
him, consoled him, offered him his services, served him in re 
ality, remaining with him and inhaling his infectious breath, 
and would have stayed with him night and day had he not been 
forced away. 

The gratitude of Vincent towards the prior descended even 
to his servant. This man, after fifteen or sixteen years of ser 
vice, left his master in spite of all the efforts and the liberal of 
fers of our Saint to retain him. Having returned to 
his own province, he there almost entirely lost his mind. 
Without subsistence, without relatives, he fell into mis- 
cry, wandering at hazard, and gaining his mouthful in 
any and every way, without knowing distinctly whither 
his steps led him. But Providence, which was conducting him, 
guided him one day to Paris, and his intelligence, awakened by 
the sight of so mam r objects that recalled ancient memories, 
discovered the way to St. Lazarus. He asked to speak with 
Vincent who, occupied at the time, sent him to dinner, promis 
ing to sec him afterwards at leisure. At the first interview, and 
almost from the first words, the hoiy priest saw the sad state of 


the poor man. " It is the domestic of our benefactor," he said 
to himself, - and we must have pit}* on him and consider him 
as one of the family." And, in fact, he gave him a room at St. 
Lazarus and provided for all his wants till death. 

The virtue of gratitude accompanied Vincent even into the 
arms of death, for two clays before his end he profited of his 
little remaining force to pay a last tribute of gratitude to his two 
most illustrious benefactors, the Cardinal do Retz and the rev 
erend Father de Gondi, the venerable General of the Galleys. 




The entire life of Vincent de Paul, considered either as n 
Christian, or as a founder and superior of a religious commu 
nity, was one act of continual detachment. Having overcome 
the desire legitimate, for that matter of obtaining a, benefice, 
having renounced one of the best parishes in the diocese of Acqs 
because he did not wish to acquire possession on the strength 
of the law s introduction, he no longer obeyed but the secret 
impulse that led him to possess nothing of his own. He lived 
poor among the poor at Clichy and Chatillon, poor again in the 
house of Gondi; after that he consecrated himself by poverty 
to the service of the poor. 

Poverty inaugurated all Ins works. He accepted the founda 
tion of Mister and Madame de Gondi only on the refusal of several 
communities; lie refused, for long, the priory of St. Lazarus, 
and took possession of it only through obedience. And in that 
rich house, possessed of seignorial rights, superior of two con 
gregations, in favor with the rich and the great, he was captivated 
anew with love for poverty, and he embraced it with a greater 
passion than does the miser riches. 

lie was poor in his room, a room more than modest, small and 
bare. Its walls were white washed, the floor devoid of carpet; for 
furniture, a deal table with a cover; two straw chairs; for a bed, a, 
hard straw tick without a mattrass. and during the last years of 
his life without even linen; for all ornament u wooden crucifix and 
some paper pictures which a brother had, at different times, 


placed upon the walls, and which the Saint, retaining bat a sin 
gle one. had had removed as being contrary to poverty. There 
was neither fire nor fire-place, and that up to the age cf eighty, 
when his child] en forced him to take another room because he 
had need of a little tire in order to dress his ulcerated limbs. 
But how he humbled himself for it! How he accused his 
sins as being the cause of subjecting him to such a misery which 
he called scandalous! With what parsimony he used the wood 
which, as everything else, he claimed to be the property of the 
poor! So, too, when in condescension to the entreaties of his 
children, he finally consented to permit a curtain on his bed, 
with what reproaches did he overwhelm himself for this luxury, 
which resembled the coarse serge that is seen on the beds 
of the poorest peasants in the country ! And still he feared that 
his room was too luxuriously fitted up. Hence, when 
they made the visit to the rooms he required them also 
to visit his, iu order to remove whatever might be super 
fluous. He said one day: "There are two coverlets in 
my room which I use in perspiring; let them be removed." 
The same bareness was visible in the lower room where 
lie received persons of the highest rank. A brother had 
once placed a piece of old ca:pet before the door to keep 
out a cold wind that blew through; he had it taken away the 
very same day. The poverty of the clothes he wore at Court 
has been noticed; at home they were still poorer. If he were 
told that his collar was worn, or that his hat was too old, he 
would answer with gentle pleasantry: "Oh, my brother, the 
King can have no more than a collar that is not torn and a hat 
that is not worn " Equally poor were all the objects destined 
for his use: his umbrella, for instance, is still preserved, and is 
made out of a coarse stuff dipped in wax, not unlike the rude 
canvass the poor women, who sell their wares on the street, 
use as a protection against the weather. 

Poor in his costume, he was not less so in his food; and yet, 
every day when seating himself before his poor pittance, he ex- 
olaimed: Ah, wretch, you have not labored for the food you 
eat." When he found himself in the country without money he 
was delighted because he could then go to the house of some 


poor peasant and ask a piece of b .ack bread for the love of God. 
His poverty included even the ornaments and vestments used 
in the church of St. Lazarus; he would have them plain and 
cheap, save on grand solemnities. He was liberal only in what 
concerned the glory of God, and the spiritual and corporal ben 
efit of the poor; then he became prodigal, and scattered money 
as so much dust, and was never troubled with fear in contract 
ing even large debts. 

His detachment embraced his Congregation as well as him 
self. "This tongue that now speaks to you," he one day said 
to his community, "has never, through the mercy of God, asked 
for anything of all that the Congregation now possesses; and 
were it necessary only to take a single step, or to pronounce 
one solitary word to have the Congregation established in the 
provinces and in the large cities, to have it multiplied and called 
to important duties, I would not wish to pronounce that word, 
and I trust Our Lord would give me the grace not to utter it. 
This is the disposition of my heart, which is to let the Provi 
dence of God do everything." 

His action in regard to the Daughters of Charity wr.s similar, 
lie never made tiny effort to maintain them in places he had 
sent them, against the wishes of those who had called for them, 
and on the slightest intimation of their pleasure he withdrew 
them. The administration of the hospital of Nantes having 
manifested a desire to substitute for the Daughters of Charity 
the Hospitaller nuns, he, ever disinterested, immediately 
wrote to the gentlemen that he knew a great deal of good con 
cerning these nuns, and that if they wished to dismiss the 
Daughters of Mademoiselle Lc Gras he very humbly begged 
them to do it without ceremony. At the same time he wrote 
to Mademoiselle Le Gras, who then was at Nantes: -This is 
what our Lord would do were He still living on earth. The 
spirit of Christianity wishes that we should enter into the senti 
ments of others, and God will, if we place no obstacle, turn 
this change to His greater glory." 

Not only was it his maxim, and his practice to solicit noth 
ing, not even a place to dwell in. after the example of our Lord 
"who never had a house and did not wUh to have any." but, 


during; the public misfortunes, he even refused the rich dona 
tions that were offered him, protesting that the poor had 
greater need than he. Me once refused as much as eight 
hundred thousand francs which were offered him to build a 
church, because he believed he could not accept them without 
doing an injury to the poor of Jesus Christ. 

His disinterestedness shone particularly in the Council of 
Conscience. Admirable disinterestedness, of which, according 
to the testimony of the minister of state, Lc Pelletier, the 
secretary. Le Tellier. said: " In quality of secretary of state I 
was in position to have a great deal of intercourse with Mr. 
Vincent. He has accomplished more good works in France for 
religion and the Church than any one I ever knew; but I have 
particularly remarked that in the Council of Conscience where 
lie was the principal actor, there was never question either of 
Ins own interests, or of those of his congregation, or of the 
ecclesiastical houses he had established. 1 A disinterestedness 
nil the more praiseworthy, as his houses, nearly all poor, were 
moreover burdened by the gratuitous nature of their chief 
functions. The acquisition of a few benefices would have 
placed them in ease. He never thought of it. And if some 
times benefices were attached to his seminaries this occurred 
onby at the earnest entreaties of the possessors, or of the legiti 
mate collators. And even then it was difficult to obtain his 
consent, the only share he ever had in securing them. And, 
moreover, he imposed the law that revenues should be devoted, 
i:ot to the services of the houses, nor to the advantage of his 
members, but to the education of young ecclesiastics. If he 
learned that the Queen was about to confer some favor on him, he 
immediately had it given to another. What was his dismay when 
the rumor got abroad that she intended to demand for him the 
Cardinal s hat! He would have listened to his death sentence 
more willingly than he did to the compliments some that of his 
friends addressed to him on that occasion. The Roman purple 
would, truly, have been for his humility the purple of martyr 

Is it necessary to add that this disinterestedness was proof 
against all corruption 1 One of his most intimate friends came 


to him, one day, to offer him, in the name of certain parties, 
one hundred thousand francs to obtain his influence in the 
Council in favor of certain projects that contained nothing 
burdensome in regard to the people, but which could hurt the 
interests of the clergy. Vincent might have said as did St. 
Peter to Simon: May thy money perish with thec .... for 
thy heart {s not right in the si>,lit of God, (Acts, viii, 20). He 
contented himself in saying with more gentleness: "God pre 
serve me from it! I would rather die than say a word on the 

Disinterested in acquiring, he was indifferent in preserving, 
what he already possessed, having no attachment to anything 
here below. Troubled in his title to St. Lazarus by the priests 
of St. Victor, he preferred to abandon all rather than maintain 
his r to-lit in law, and came to the determination of defending 


his title only out of deference to wise counsels. 

He was the same in regard to all his houses, whether in 
trigue or armed force disputed his possession. After the 
battle of the Faubourg St. Antoine, when his house was in 
danger of being pillaged by both armies, he ordered the 
entire community to repair to the church, and there, prostrate- 
in the presence of the God of the poor, to offer Him all its pos 
sessions, and, in case of ejection, thank Him very humbly for 
having despoiled them. 

But his detachment won its triumph in the proceedings re 
lative to the Orsigny farm lie had acquired this farm on very 
onerous conditions, and had quite considerable expense in 
improving it. He was on the point of enjoying the results 
when an unjust sentence deprived him of all. 

Brother Du Courneau, his secretary, brought the r.evvs of the 
decision. God be blessed," he exclaimed, and he repeated this 
crv of loving resignation live or six times with increasing fervor. 
From his ixom he repaired to the Church and remained a long 
time in adoration and prayer; in coming out he again repeated: 
"God be blessed, only one thing causes me sore trouble and it 
is to have, by my sins, caused such a loss to the congregation." 

Again in his room, he immediately wrote to a fiiend "Sir, 
good friends impart to one another the good and the evil that 


befall them, ami, since you are one of the best we possess 
ia the world, I must inform you of our loss of the suit and 
of the Orsigny form, not, however, as aa evil but as a grace 
that God has bestowed upon us, and I beg you to aid us 
in returning thanks. I term graces from God the afflictions He 
sends u>, especially when they are well received. Hut His 
Infinite Goodness, having prepared i:s for this loss before the 
judgment was rendered, has also given us the grace to sub 
mit to it with resignation, and, I presume to say, with as much 
joy as if the decision were favorable. This would seem a 
paradox to one not blessed, like 3-011. sir, in the things of 
Heaven and who would not know that conformity, in adversity, 
to the good pleasure of God is greater good than all temporal 
gain. I humbly beg you to permit me thus to pour into your 
heart the sentiment of my own." 

As the case was lost by the dissent of only three or four 
judges out of twenty two, Vincent was advised to renew the 
proceedings and take up a:i appeal: " No," he wrote, "we 
would be accused of too much attachment to wealth, n. charge 
already made against ecclesiastics, and we might, in causing 
ourselves to be accused in court, do a wrong to other commu 
nities and scandalize our friends. Besides, I have extreme 
difficulty in going against the counsel of our Lord, Who wishes 
that those, \\ho have undertaken to follow Him, v,ould not en 
tangle themselves in the law. That we have already done so 
was because I could not, in conscience, abandon a property so 
legitimately acquired, a property, moreover, belonging to the 
community, and of which I had only the administration, with 
out doing all in my power to preserve it. But now, since God 
lias discharged me of His obligation by a sovereign decree that 
lias rendered m}* further care unnecesssJT, I think we ought to 
do no more. And all the more so, as, should we fail a second 
time, it would be a sort of dishonor which might prejudice the 
duty and the edification we owe the public . . . Moreover, 
as one of our practices in missions is to settle all disputes and 
difficulties among the people, it is to be feared that, were the 
congregation to become obstinate and renew the suit by an 
appeal to a higher court the last resource of all chicanery 
God would deprive it of the grace to further effect reconcilia 


Viccent, therefore, renounced a new prosecution of his rights. 
He gave up the farm of Orsigny, but not the obligations he hart 
contracted in accepting it, and lie continued the prayers a:i 1 
other spiritual obligations of the donation, 


It remained to inspire the members of his community with his 
own detachment and induce them to acquiesce in this unjust 
judgment as if it were the sentence of Heaven. He gave them 
a spiritual conference on the subject, wherein, having related 
the advice given him to have recourse, for his protection, to a 
higher court, he cried out: i Oh, my God, we will take care 
not to do so! Thou Thyself O. Lord, hast pronounced this- 
decree; it will be, if pleasing to Thee, irrevocable. And, not 
to dela} the execution, we now make a sacrifice of this property 
to Thy Supreme Majesty. And .you, gentlemen and my 
brothers, I pray you to add a sacrifice of praise; let us bless the 
Sovereign Judge of the living and the dead for having visited 
us in our da} of tribulation; let us return Him infinite thanks, 
not only for having withdrawn our affections from the goods of 
this earth, but; also for having in reality stripped us of what wo 
had, and let us beg of Him the grace to love this deprivation. 
I love to believe that we are all joyful in this temporal loss; for 
since our Lord says in the Apocalypse: Those whom I love 1 
cliastise, (Apol. iii., 19,) must we not love chastisements as 
we would the tokens of His love? But it is not enough to love 
them; we must rejoice in them. Oh, my God, who will give us 
this grace? Thou art the source of all joy, and outside of Thee 
there is no true joy! It is of Thee, then, we demand it. Yes, 
gentlemen, let us rejoice since it seems that God has found us 
worthy to suffer. But how rejoice in sufferings, since they 
naturally displease, and AVO try to avoid them? In the same 
manner as we do, when sick, in remedies. We know thai 
medicines are bitter and that the very sweetest of them create 
an involuntary shudder. And yet we shallow them gladly; 
and why? Because we love our henlth which we hope to pre 
serve, or recover by means of the medicines. These aillictions. 
which of themselves are disagreeable, contribute, nevertheless, 


fo the good condition of a soul or of a congregation; by tbem 
God purifies it as gold is purified by fire. Our Lord iu the 
Garden of Olives felt only agony, and on the cross only sorrow 
which was so excessive that it seemed, deprived as He was of 
all human succor, as if He were abandoned also by His Father. 
Yet. in these terrors of death and these excesses of His passion, 
He rejoices in doing the Avill of His Father, and, rigorous though 
it be. lie prefers it to all the joys of the world; it is His meat, 
His delight. M} r brethren, such should be our gladness when we 
si n Mis gaol pleasure accomplished in us by means of the hu 
miliations losses, and troubles, that may come upon us: Look- 
iiiii." 1 as St. Paul says, on Jt-sus, >Ji, autlw and finisher of 
faitJ> 9 Who, having joy proposed to Him. underwent the cross, 
despising the shame ( Heb. xii., 2.) The first Christians were 
imbued with these sentiments, according to the testimony of 
the same Apostle. And received with joy the plundering of your 
goods. (Heb. x. , 34.) AVhy will we not, with them, rejoice, 
to-day, in the loss of our property? Oh, my brethren, how 
great a pleasure it is to God to see us assembled for that pur 
pose, to behold us entertaining ourselves with it and to see us 
exciting this joy within us We arc become, on the one hand, 
a spectacle to the world by the disgrace and the shame arising 
from this sentence which publishes us, it seems, as unjust de 
tainers of another s good. We are made a. spectacle to the world 
and to anrjels and to mn. 1 ( I Cor. iv. , 9.) fi[[ reproaches and 
tribulations made a spectacle. ( Heb. x. , 21.) But, on the other 
hand : My brethren, count it all joy ichenyoii shall fall inlo divers 
un)%tatftV8. ( i..;2.) Let us look upon our loss as a 
great gain; for God has, with this farm, deprived us of the sat 
isfaction we felt in possessing it and of the pleasure we took iu 
sometimes going to see it; and this recreation, being agreeable 
to the senses, would have been like a slow poison that kills, as 
a knife that cuts, like a fire that burns and destroys, lint now, 
through the mercy of God, we arc delivered from this danger; 
and the Divine Goodness wishes to inspire us. now that we arc 
exposcl to want in temporal thing-;, with more confidence in 
His Providence, and to oblige us to abandon ourselves to it en 
tirely for all the necessities of this life, as well as for the graces 
of salvation. Oh, were it pleasing to God that this temporal 


loss were recompensed with an augmentation of confidence in 
His Providence, with greater abandonment to its direct! on, with 
a greater detachment from earthly goods and renunciation of 
ourselves, oh, my God, my brethren, how happy we would be. 
I will hope in His paternal bounty, which does all for the best, 
that this grace be accorded us . 

What, then, are the fruits we ought to gather from all this? 
The first is to offer to God all that remains of our goods and 
consolations, as well temporal as spiritual. To offer ourselves 
to Him in general and in particular, but in the proper spirit, 
that He may absolutely dispose, according to His good pleasure, 
of our persons and of all that we have. To offer ourselves in 
such a manner that we will always be prepared to leave every 
thing and accept an} inconvenience, ignominy, or aflliction 
that may come upon us. that thus we may imitate Jesus Christ 
in His poverty, His humility, and His patience. 

" The second is never to have recourse to law, no matter 
what our right 11103- be, or, should we see ourselves obliged to 
call in its aid. to do so, provided our title be entirely clear and 
evident, only after having essayed every imaginable means of 
settlement; for he who trusts in the judgment of men will often 
find himself deceived. We will put in practice the counsel of 
our Lord, who says: Jf anyone icill take away Oiy coat let himhave 
tlnj cloak O/SQ, ( Matt. v. 40). May God grant the Congregation 
this disposition! We must hope that, should it prove faithful 
in this practice and steadfast in never departing from it. His 
Divine Goodness will bless it, and if with one hand He takes 
away He will give with the other." 

Whether the family of Vincent was dispossessed of any piece 
of property, or its services no longer required in any locality. 
lie always preached the same detachment. On these occasions 
he wrote to those whom he was obliged to recall: "After 
having rendered your account to the Grand Vicars, and receiv 
ed a receipt for what you have, as according 1o inventory, you 
will deliver all into their hands and gracefully take leave of 
them, without a single word of complaint, or any expression 
of content to leave the place, and you will pray that God may 
bless the city and the diocese. I would es| ecially beg of you 
not to say anything in the pul->it, or ehewherc, that could show 


the slightest discontent. You will ask the blessing of these 
gentlemen, and have all your little family do the same, and, 
at the same time, ask it for me who desires to prostrate myself 
at their feet in spirit with you." 

He taught them, when in the greatest distress, to be reassur 
ed in regard to the future, and to place all their trust in Provi 
dence. One of his priests representing to him. one day, the 
poverty of his house, he asked him: "What do you do when 
necessaries fail the community? Do you have lecourse to 
God." "Yes, sometimes," answered the priest "Well, he 
replied. " that is the effect of poverty; it makes us think of God 
and elevate our hearts to Him. whereas, were we in comfortable 
circumstances we might, perhaps, forget Him. For this reason 
I am rejoiced that poverty, both voluntary and real, is practis 
ed in all our houses. There is a hidden grace in poverty that 
we do not know. 1 But," rejoined the priest, you procure 
for others what they need, and you neglect your own." "I 
hope God will forgive you these words," returned Vincent, " I 
see you said them simply without meaning anything; but 
know that we will never be rich until we become like to Jesus 

His priests, having as yet no fixed abode in Rome, he wrote 
to them: " Can we be better off, or more agreeable to God. 
than when we are just as God wants us to be, provided, 
indeed, we will acquiesce in submission to His holy guidance, 
acknowledging that we are unworthy a more convenient abode, 
that the one we have is far better than our deserts, and more 
suited to the designs that God has on us? For, if we are not 
destined to remain, we have no need of a fixed habitation, nor, 
if we wish to follow our Lord who had none, should we have a 
house of our own? If we do not love humiliation when God 
gives us the occasion to practise it, will we seek it when in 
more honorable circumstances? Let us remain humble and be 
content in poverty, because, then, people seeing our mean con 
dition will despise us. Then we will begin to be true disciples 
of our Lord. Blessed are ye poor: for yours -in the king lorn of 
God. (Luke vi. 20). It is. then, in Heaven they will be lodged. 
Is it not a beautiful place for us? Oh, my God, give us the 


grace to prefer the means that conduct thither to Hie preten 
tious and conveniences of earth." 

Such was the spirit of the Mission from the very beginning. 
The Saint said one day: " The Congregation, still in its in 
fancy, being composed of only three or four, went to Mount 
Martyr (with the exception of the miserable man now speaking, 
he being indisposed) and recommended itself to God through 
the intercession of the holy martyrs, that it might enter into 
the practice of poverty, then and since so well observed by a 
great portion of the community." 

To maintain this spirit of poverty among them, the Saint of 
ten gave it as the subject of their conferences: " You should 
know, gentlemen," he said, " that this virtue of poverty is the 
very foundation of this Congregation of the Mission. Alas! 
what would become of this Congregation should attachment to 
the goods of the world creep in ? What would become of it did it 
give entrance to the desire of riches which, the Apostle says, is 
the root of all evil? Some great saints have said that poverty 
is the bond of religious orders. We are not. in truth, religious, 
it Having been found inexpedient to have us such, and, more 
over, we are not worthy to be, though we do live in common. 
Still it is, nevertheless, true, and we can say it also, that pov 
erty is the bond of communities, and particularly of ours; it is 
the bond which, releasing us from all earthy things, unites us 
perfectly to God. Oh, my Savior! Give us this virtue which 
binds us inseparably to Thy service, so that, henceforth, we may 
desire and seek only Thee and Thy glory." 

Ho then indicated more clearly and more completely its ne 
cessity and its excellence. "Our Lord," he said, "being the 
sovereign master of all riches, having created them all, and. 


therefore, being their legitimate possessor, witnessing the great 
disorder the desire and possession of these riches occasioned on 
the earth, whhed to remedy it by practising poverty. And for 
this purpose, He became so poor that He had not whereon to lay 
His head. He desired, too, that the Apostles and Disciples 
whom He admitted to His company, should practise the same 
poverty, as also the first Christians, who, as we read, possessed 
nothing in proper but had all things in common. Cur Lord, 
then, seeing the great ruin the evil spirit caused in the world t>\ 


the possession of riches, which were for a great manv a source 
of destruction, has wished to repair the evil by a contrary rem 
edy, namely. l>y the practice of poverty. 

Bleswl are the poor in spirit : f)r their* <.> the kingdom of 
Heaven. 1 (Matt. v. 3.) This is the first lesson of Our Lord. 
What first escapes the lips is that which most fills the heart. But 

the first words of Our Lord are these: Blefst-d are the poor 

a mark of his great love and esteem for poverty. More, still, 
in what does the good pleasure of God consist? In this, that 
He desires that those, who love Him, love without reserve. Now, 
those who have made a vow of poverty have severed all ties 
and retain affection for nothing. They are. then, forced, as it 
were, to direct their affections and their love towards God; for 
life is impossible without love. But, since, by the vow of pov 
erty we have no longer affection or love for earthly and cre 
ated things, we must have both for the Uncreated Good, and for 
things of Heaven. Having, therefore, made this vow of poverty 
we are no longer attached to anything; neither to honors, nor 
to riches, nor to pleasures. And then, will our heart be de 
void of love? It must, therefore, direct its love to God. Con 
sequently, the vow of poverty is but a sovereign and perfect 
means of properly loving God. Let us well understand this 
truth, that we abandon the riches of earth to possess those of 
Heaven. I desiieto make profession of it: and, in withdrawing 
my love from false gods, to love and enjoy the only true God, 
I reject trifles, and corruptible and perishable riches that I may 
possess tbose that are eternal and enduring. Oh, my Saviour, 
what a happiness! 

Another da} he compared the soul, not free from all attach 
ment, to a man firmly bound, hand and foot, to a tree, that can 
neither liberate himself, nor go and seek necessary sustenance. 
He will, consequently, die of hunger or be devoured by wild 
beasts. Image of a soul fastened with the love of the goods and 
conveniences of this world ! It thinks of them, night and day, 
a nd the thought will not away; it seeks none who ma}- deliver 
it and give it life; it is, then, in great danger of being devoured. 
Oh, my Saviour, is it possible that we will not endeavor to cast 
off such bonds? What! a little bird, ensnared in a trap, strug 
gles night and day to regain its freedom, and we, when entan- 


gled in an evil attachment, will take no pains to free ourselves! 
The example of that little bird mil condemn us before the tri 
bunal of God." 

And, arming his charity with invective and anathema, he add 
ed one day: "Woe, woe, gentlemen and rny brothers, yes. woe 
to the missionary who shall allow himself to be attracted by the 
perishable goods of this life ! For he shall be ensnared; these 
thorns will remain imbedded in him and these ties continue to 
fret him. And should this misfoituue happen the Congregation, 
what, then, will be said? And what sort of life will be led in it? 
Individuals will say : * We have so n any thousand francs income, 
we ought to take our ease. Why go teach in the villages? Why 
labor so much? Let the poor people of the country alone; their 
parish priests. if such be their good pleasure, will tend to 
them for us; we can live quietly without giving ourselves all that 
trouble! See how idleness will follow in the train of avarice; the 
only thought will be how to preserve and augment temporal goods, 
to gratify self. And then maybe said farewell to all the exercises 
of the Mission, and to the Mission itself, for it will no longer 
exist. You need but consult history to find an infinity of ex 
am pies of how riches and abundance of temporal possessions 
have brought about the ruin, not onl} ? of man} ecclesiastical 
personages, but also of entire orders and communities, because 
they had lost the spirit of their first poverty." 

And, falling back on himself, in one of his ordinary returns 
of humility, he exclaimed: "Oh, my Savior, how can I. who 
am so miserable, speak of this ! 1 who have had formerly a horse, 
a carriage, and who. now, have a fire in my room, a curtain ou 
my bed, and a brother to wait on me; I, of whom such care is 
taken that I want for nothing ! Oh, what a scandal I give the 
Congregftiien by rny abuse of the vow of poverty in all these 
r.nd other like things! I ask pardon of Clod and of the Congre 
gation, :<nd I beg it to bear with me in my old age. I have 
difficulty in bearing with myself, and it seems to mo I have de 
served to be hung at Montfuucon. May God grant me the grace 
to correct myself, though too old. and to retrench as much as I 
can in all these things." 



Detachment from things of earth and love of poverty 
include mortification. But we must study ir,ore directly in our 
Saint the special virtue designated by this name. 

So faithful a disciple of the Savior, Vincent could not fail to 
hear in his body and in his entire being, according to the 
counsel of the apostle, the ir.ortification of Jesus Christ. 
Therefore, like the Savior s life, His was but a continual 
sacrifice. And this sacrifice was all the more meritorious and 
agreeable to God as it was the more humble and the more 
secret. For, founder and head of a congregation destined to 
serve as a model both to clergy and people, and therefore 
obliged to show externally only those virtues which true 
Christians and good ecclesiastics might emulate, he confined 
himself entirely to a life well regulated, equally removed from 
culpable weakness and from a rigor too severe and forbidding. 
But the cross of Jesus Christ did not lose any of its claims; he 
paid to it, interiorly and in secret, the tribute of homage and 
imitation which, in public, he seemed to refuse. 

He sacrificed to it all the love of man: the love of honor and 
self-esteem, unveiling before the eyes of ail, as we have seen, 
his lowly birth and his pretended weaknesses whether in the 
order of nature, or of grace; the love of reputation, and of 
gratitude on the part of others, the desire of friendship which 
he always forced to yield to duty, fearing neither contempt, nor 
hatred, nor vengeance; the love of parents and of country, con 
stantly calling to mind that, priest according to the order of 


Melchisedccb, he should forget all genealogy; that, priest of 
Jesus Christ, he should know neither mother, nor brother; that, 
apostle of the Gospel, he should prophesy everywhere save in his 
native land. Having become priest, and, in particular, when once 
intrusted with the portfolio of benefices, he made it a, law to 
ask nothing cither temporal or spiritual for himself, or for his 
family. In vain did the priests of the locality, and even some 
of his missionaries represent to him the straightened circum 
stances of his relations and the severe labor to which they were 
condemned, and urged him to do something for them: "What," 
he asked, "are they poorer than before, and can their arms no 
longer suffice to procure a living for them suitable to their con 
dition in life?" And reassured on these two points, he added: 
They arc, then, indeed happy, for they execute the divine 
sentence which has condemned man to gain his brtad in the 
sweat of his brow." 

The only share which the family of Vincent ever had in the 
immense chanties that passed through his hands was the sum 
of a thousand francs, and then it owed it to extraordinary mis 
fortunes. This sum had been given the holy priest for his re 
lations by his friend, l)u Fresne. Vincent accepted it; but he 
said to Du Fresne: " My family can live as it has up to the 
present, and this increase of wealth will not render it more 
meritorious. Besides, it alone would profit by it. Do you not 
believe a o- od mission given to all the parish would be of more 

o o 

value before God and men?" Du Fresne could not deny this, 
and the money was laid aside for that purpose. But occasion 
failing to present itself, the civil wars inteivened and desolated 
the provinces, especially Guienne. None suffered more than 
Vincent s relations; they lost their little all, and some even 
their lives. This was about the year 1(550. Vincent received 
the most distressing information concerning his iamily. His 
friend, the canon of St. Martin, the Lord of Pony, wrote to him 
that they were reduced to beggary ; the Bishop of Acqs, who 
visited Paris that year, told him: "Your poor relatives are 
badly off, if you do not take pity on them they must experience 
great difficulty in procuring the necessaries of life. Seme of 
them died during the war, and there are others who arc living 
on alms." -Sec in what state my poor relations are," added 

276 VIKTl. KS AM) JiOCTIMN K OI ST. VINCKNT I > 1-: I All.. 

Vincent in relating- this to his priests, " they tire reduced to 
beggary! to beggary ! And I, myself, had not God given me 
the grace to be a priest nnd to bo here, would be as they 
ere. But what is to be done? The property of the corn- 
rnuniiy does not belong !o me, nnd it would be o-iy. 


ing a bad example to dispose of it." It was then that he 
remembered the money handed him by l)u Fre-ne. Blessed 
7)0 the Divine Providence," he cried out, that did not permit 
rne to send missionaries to Pony! It evidently reserved this 
alms for my poor family. And. full of joy in being able, this 
time, to reconcile his disinterestedness with his tenderness for 
his family, he hastened to place the thousand francs at the dis 
position of the canon St. Martin whom he begged to dis 
tribute it. 

This soul, so loving, could not exclude from its universal 
charity those whom time and the order of God had inscribed on 
it even before the poor themselves. And, consequently, was 
he obliged to make use of the most cruel ed oits of virtue to 
suppress and extinguish in it the explosions of a love that ever 
tended to manifest itself in benefits, and no mortification cost 
him more. Do you imagine." he said one day when pressed 
to assist them, do you imagine I have no love for my rela 
tions? I have for them all the feelings of tenderness and 
affection that : nyone can have for his family, and this natural 
love impels me sulliciently to aid them. But I must act accord 
ing to the movements of grace and not of those of nature, and 
I must think of the poor the most abandoned, without stopping 
it ties of friendship or relationship." 

There came a day when the Saint had especial need to call to 
his aid his principles of mortification in order to stiuggle against 
his love for his relatives. In 10-23, after a mission at Bordeaux, 
finding himself at the very door of his family, he determined, 
by ihe advice of his friend", to pay them a visit. He had for a 
long time resisted this a-i vice, objecting the example of many 
good cccle-iastics who had at first done great good away from 
their native place, but, having revisited their home, were, on 
their return, entirely changed, had become useless to the public, 
and were as much immersed in ihe affairs of their family, as 
before they were devoted to the works of their holy ministry. 


lie obeyed, however. In doing so, he yielded less to the 
needs of his heart, charmed nevertheless to revisit his own, 
than to the design of strengthening them in virtue, of teaching 
them to love and prize their lowly condition, and of declaring 
to them, once for all. that in the future, as in the past, they 
should count for their livelihood on the labor of their hands 
alone. He wished to reawaken the reminiscences of his hum 
ble childhood, of |h is finf ant piety, and to consecrate his priest 
hood and his mature years to the God of his childhood. On 
the morning after his arrival, he renewed, in the parish church, 
the promises of his baptism, and offered himself anew to the 
Lord on the very spot where he received, with the seal of a 
Christian, the breathings of the apostolic spirit. During his 
stay at Pony, lie greatly edified his relatives and all the honest 
villagers by his piety, his prudence, his temperance and his 
mortification. These good people remarked especially let 
us not draw back in presence of these simple details that he 
drowned hi^ wine in waler, and that at night he removed the 
soft bed they had prepared for him, and lay down on the hard 
straw. On the day of his departure he went barefooted on a 
pilgrimage from the Church of Pony to the Chapel of Our 
Lady of Bugloose. It was the same path that he, as herdsboy, 
often took with his beasts; to day, he, a priest, is escorted by 
his brothers and sisters, by his poor relatives, and by almost all 
the villagers justly proud of their compatriot. Vincent cele 
brated solemn mass in the chapel. After the ceremony he 
gathered all his relatives around a modest board; then he 
rose to take IIIG leave of them. All fell on their knoes to ask 
his blessing. " Yes, 1 bless you/ he exclaimed with emotion, 
" but I bless you poor and humble, and I ask for you from our 
Lord the grace of a holy poverty. Never leave the condition 
in which He has been pleased to have you born. This is my 
most earnest recommendation and which i beg you to trans 
mit as an heirloom to your descendants. Farewell, forever." 
But Vincent had scarcely set out before ho felt his heart 
breaking, and tears streamed from his eyes, lie had just been 
the witness and the guest of tiie poverty cf nearly till his 
people, and he left them so, when ho had but to open his 
hand, fr> e:iy a word, to b?3to,v upon them wealth. There 


then arose within liim between, tlie law he had imposed upon- 
himself and his fraternal tenderness, a struggle the issue of 
which w#a long uncertain. " AV retch !" lie cried out in this, 
cruel agony, "this is the punishment of your disobedience to 
the spirit of detachment and abnegation so frequently recom 
mended in the Scriptures to the ministers of the Gospel. Before 
this journey you thought only of the service of God, of works, 
far removed from llesh and blood, and now all your thoughts 
turn on your people." But we must listen to him, fully relat 
ing this contest between nature and grace, in a conference he 
gave on mortification on the 2d of May, 1G59. He said r 
Having spent some eight or ten days with my relations in 
older to instruct them in the way of salvation and to remove 
from them all desire of riches, even telling them that they 
must expect nothing from me, that hail I chests of gold and 
silver, I would give them nothing, because an ecclesiastic who- 
possesses anything owes it all to God and the poor. The day 
I departed I was so overcome with grief in leaving my poor 
relations that I did nothing but weep the entire way, and 
weep almost without ceasing. To these tears succeeded the 
desire to assist and better them ; to give such a one this, such 
a one that ; thus, my heart softened by pity portioned out 
what 1 did have and what I did not have. I say this to my 
shame, and I say it because God, perhaps, permitted that, in 
order to make me the better understand the importance of the 
evangelical counsel of which we are speaking. This impor 
tunate passion to advance the well being of my brothers and 
sisters lasted for three months; it was a constant weight upon 
my poor mind. During it, whenever I experienced a little 
freedom, I prayed to God that He would be pleased to deliver 
me from this temptation, and I prayed so earnestly that, 
finally, llo had pity on me. He took away from me all this 
immoclcrare tenderness for flesh and blood ; and. though they 
have since then been reduced to live on aim?, and are so even 
to-day, He has has given me the grace to commit them to the 
care of His Providence and to consider them happier than were- 
they in abundance. 

"I say this to the community because there is something, 
grand in this practice so much recommended in the Gospel,. 


excluding, as it does, from among the disciples of Jesus Christ 
all those who do not hate father and mother, brother and 
sister, and because our rule, following that counsel, exhorts 
us to renounce all immoderate affections for those belonging to 
us. Let us pray God for them; and if we can assist them in 
charity, let us do so ; but be firm against nature, which 
always tending in that direction, Avill, if it can, turn us away 
from the school o( Jesus Christ. Let us be firm." 

From the time of this journey up to the day of his death, 
Vincent never again saw but a single member of his family, 
the nephew whose story we have related in the chapter on 
Humility, and whom he dismissed as he came, on foot, and 
with only ten crowns for his long way. And, moreover, he 
received this modest sum from the Marchioness of Maignelay 
the only alms he ever solicited for his family. Later, he hud 
a scruple for h:iving even kept his nephew a few days, and he 
asked pardon on his knees for having given him to eat of wh;it 
belonged to the poor. 

Notwithstanding the ill-success of that journey some years 
after one of his brothers, the father, possibly, of this young 
man, had the thought, of trying his chance. He had just lost 
* a ruinous law r suit and wished to reestablish his affairs. But 
in a letter of the 20th of August, 1G35, written 
Fontcnay, Vincent, after having thanked him for what he had 
done for Ins brother during the trial, eagerly added: " In re 
lation to his intention, as I have been informed, of coming to 
Paris to sec me, I beseech you. sir, to dissuade him from the 
idea, as well on account of his age, as from the fact that when 
here I could not relieve him, since I have not the disposal of a 
single thing that I could give him." 

He extended this mortification in matters of family to his 
native place. Once, when he had the idea of. establishing there 
some of the priests of his Congregation, fearing this thought 
to be inspired by a natural feeling rather than by a movement 
of grace, he immediately said to himself: "Oh. wretch! of 
what are you thinking? Should not all places and countries 
be indifferent to you, and have not all souls equally cost the 
Son of God? Why then incline to succor some in preference 
to others ? " And he abandoned his project. 


The soul disclosing itself especially in speech, the interior- 
mortification of Vincent manifested itself in the absolute 
empire lie held over his tongue. A useless word never escap 
ed him ; still less a word of detraction, of boasting, of vanity, 
of ridicule or of impatience that could betray in him a vicious 
or undisciplined temper. He never spoke ol himself sare from 
a motive of charity; and when he sometimes did, it was with 
out any feeling of sell-love and simply to maintain the con 
versation, and he soon ceased, warned by the interest of his 
hearers, struck his breast and exclaimed : I am a wretch, full 
of vuriity and pride, who do nothing but speak of mysolf." lie 
then asked pardon on his knees for the scandal he thought he 
hid given. 

But he rraye willing car to others relating what he alreudv 

O O D v 

knew, both to mortify self-love which always delights to appeal- 
knowing, and not to deprive the speaker of his pleasure in 
narrating. He listened, particularly, without interruption or 
reply when reproaches and insults were addressed him that he 
might imitate the Savior in His passion ; and like the Savior 
again, he prayed with gratefulness from the bottom of hi* 
heart, for those who outraged him. 

In the perplexities of affairs, in losses, in misfortunes, never a 
complaint, never a murmur escaped him ; only a loving acqui 
escence in the Divine Will, expressed ordinarily in these words: 
"God be praised! God be blessed ! We must submit to His 
good pleasure and accept all that lie will please to scud 

His exterior mortification was not leas. Up to extreme old 
age he sought out all occasions wherein he could suffer. It 
was one of his maxims that mortification could be practised 
a^ every moment cither in maintaining a painful, though 
mcdest, position, or in depriving the senses of the sight of 
agreeable objects, or in willingly suffering the inclemency of 
the weather and of the seasons. And he constantly reduced this 
maxim to practice. In 1049, in a journey he undertook for 
the purpose of visiting the houses of his Congregation, he 
condemned himself to the most rigorous penance and the most 
excessive privations. It was winter, and a very severe winter, 
which alone ouffht to have been sufficient and more than 


sufficient to satisfy the desire of suffering in an eld num of 
seventy-three wandering from farm to farm, badly housed, and 
poorly clad. To the rigor of the season, he would add a still 
more rigorous abstinence. Rye bread, or bread made of beans 
was almost his only food, for all else that was placed before 
him he distributed to the peasants whom he invited to cat 
with him ; and of this he partook so sparingly that he had 
time to read for the others during the greater part of the 
dinner hour. 

He did not look on beautiful landscapes, nor at magnificent 
buildings. He never plucked a flower. To their perfume he 
preferred the fetid odor of hospitals, or of the sick room- 
Notwithstanding his sensibility to extreme temperatures he 
never took any precaution against cold or heat ; he never wore 
gloves iu winter, and his hands, like his limbs, were .swollen 
and chapped. 

lie closed his ear to harmony of sound and to agreeable dis 
course in order to mortify the hearing as he did the sight. As 
to taste, he seemed to resemble the holy precursor, who neither 
ate nor drank. He would permitno distinction between him 
self and his brethren in the quality of his food, not even in the 
infirmities of old ago. Coming in very late in the afternoon 
from his charitable expeditions, he directed his steps to the re 
fectory only after ho had long partaken of bis spiritual food at 
the foot of tee altar, the only nourishment for which lie ex 
hibited any eagerness. If. the common repast was over, his 
mortification was overjoyed, for then he would have only what 
remained, and the more meagre and less appetizing it was, the 
more delicious and savory it appeared to him. For that mat 
ter, he seemed, to have tasto for nothing, still less did he have 
any preference 1 . He was served with raw eggs by mistake; he 
ate them without a word, and it was known only the next day 
through the cook. If everything had already been served and 
nothing was left, ho contented himself with a little bread. 
Were his wine removed he never asked for it, he drank the 
water. And yet thi%, so sober a repast, was his first, and often 
his^only, meal in the day, for he entered very late, and, accord 
ing to his habit, had taken nothing in the morning. When 


very old he was urged to take some broth before going out. 
" You tempt me, sir," he said to the priest who presented it 
to him. Is it not the evil one that induces you to persuade 
me to thus nourish this miserable body, this vile carcass? Is 
this right? May God forgive you." Still, in his last days, he 
consented to take a drink in the morning, but by way of medi 
cine; for it was a broth without meat, made of wild chicory 
and pearl barley, with no seasoning either of lard, butter, or 

And yet he had a strong appetite. One day, pointing to a 
loaf of bread weighing two or three pounds, he said : " If I 
yielded to my appetite, I could eat all that." But poor nour 
ishment, and little of it, was not sufficient for his mortification; 
he held in reserve bitter powders which he sprinkled over what 
he ate to render it more disagreeable to the taste. Nature 
sometimes gave way, and at night they were obliged to bring 
him, when overcome by weakness, a morsel of dry bread, the 
only refreshment he would accept. 

Such was the repast destined to repair the strength lost in a 
long day of work, and even for this, we have seen, he re 
proached himself, believing he had not merited it. 

Tt was a constant fast with him. Nevertheless, he fasted 
more regularly twice every week and on all days ordained by 
the Church. When more than eighty years of age, he con 
tented himself with the salt fish served to the community. 
When he came in alter the others had finished they sometimes 
tried to deceive him, and served him fresh fish, but he asked 
what had been given to the others, and if he were not served 
the same he would not touch anything. In the evening a lit 
tle bread, an apple, and water colored with wine formed his 
collation. lie abstained from even this when he came a little 
late from the city; then, without taking any nourishment, he 
would retire to his room, or repair to the church to preside at 
a spiritual conference. He was so severe with himself that ir, 
v. as necessary to request the interference of the highest author 
ities to induce him to moderate his austerity, and at the prayer 
of his children, the Cardinal du Rochfoucault commanded him 
to take more care of a health that was precious to the Church. 

After meals, his brethren had an hour for recreation; hensver 


look any. Finally, all retired to rest, and soon St. Lazarus 
was buried in sleep; lie alone watched. His nights were al 
most as laborious as his days. On entering in the evening ho 
found a number of letters awaiting him ; it was at night hf 
answered them. 

Most frequently, midnight struck and he was still at work. 
He, finally, thought of taking some rest. But not before tak 
ing a severe discipline as a chastis?mcnt for the many good 
works of the day, in which he discerned nothing but imperfec 
tions and sin ; in the morning he had prepared himself for the 
work of the day by a like penance. A brother, whose room 
was adjoining, affirmed that that had continued for twelve 
years. It was for more than that; this practice went as far 
back as Chatillon, at least, where his hosts had often heard 
him go through this rough gymnastic, and where they found 
under his pillow, ai u-r his departure, a forgotten instrument 
of penance. From that time ho never omitted it, not even 
when traveling, or whilst sick. But all this was only his or 
dinary and daily practice of mortification. He imposed upon 
himself extraordinary penances during the public calamities, 
in the general and particular needs of his Congregation, and 
particularly when he learned of some fault committed in any 
of his houses. Then, he began by giving himself the discipline 
twice every night for a week, to expiate (ho faults of others, 
which he always imputed to himself. My sins," he said, 
" are the- cause of all the evils that happen ; is it not just that 
I should do penance for them?" After that, he sought a rem 
edy for the evil and applied it. At all times he joined to the 
discipline the wearing of bracelets and pointed wire cinctures, 
which he sometimes replaced by a hair shirt, still preserved, 
the sight alone of which is enough to make one shudder. 

At. last he fell on his knees to say his final prayers, and make 
his daily preparation for death. lie turned down his bed. 
What kind of bed this was, we have seen. For forty years, at 
least, it was the same; for, at the time of his journey 
from Macon, in 1G17, the Oratorians, with whom he had stop 
ped, entering his room early in the morning, noticed that he 
had removed the mattrass from his bed. If, as we have seen, 
he consented towards the end, to have a curtain hung around 


it, he still continued to sleep upon the straw. Very often 
on this wretched pallet he found neither rest nor sleep. Fever 
consumed him, his sores tortured him, he was bathed in sweat: 
no matter, at four o clock in the morning h? was the first 
to rise ; and, notwithstanding the swelling in his aged limbs, 
which lie had to bandage after rising, he was in the church be 
fore the youngest, and the most healthy to commence anew 
the same round of labors and mortifications. 


This habitual mortification was also with Vincent de Paul 
an habitual subject of discourse : " Be firm," he said contin 
ually, "be firm against nature: i or it we once give it an inch 
it will take an ell. Let us be convinced that our advancement 
in spiritual life will be measured by the progress we make in 
this virtue of mortification, a virtue particularly necessary for 
those who are to labor for the salvation of souls. It is vain to 
preach penance to others if we ourselves do not practise, it and 
if it do not manifest itself in our actions and in our conduct." 

He redoubled his exhortations during the public evils; and 
to give effect to his words, he sometimes retrenched a dish at 
table, and,at others, ordered the substitution of black for white 
bread. He would sa.y: "God afflicts His people. Ought not 
we, priests, be at the foot of the altar bewailing our sins ? This 
is our duty. And, further, should we not forbid ourselves 
something in our ordinary nourishment in order to relieve 
them, to suffer with them, and share in the general misfortune?" 

He said again, in a more general way: "Our Lord has so 
loved affliction and suffering that He wished to lead a life of 
sorrow ; He became man that he might have the means of suf 
fering. All the saints have embraced tho samo state, and 
those, to whom our Lord did not sand severe sickness, sought 
cut, themselves, opportunities to afflict and chastise their 
bodies. Witness St. Paul, who said, speaking of himself: Bu* 
I ch-istiwniy body and briny it into subjections (1 Cor.ix., 27.) 
This is what we, too, should do, wo, who ai*3 in perfect health: 
we should punish and mortify ourselves to atone for the sins 
we have committed and for the dailv sins of the world against- 


the Divine Majesty. But alas ! man is so wretched and mis 
erable that not only does he not punish himself, but even 
often suffers with impatience the sickness and afflictions it 
pleases God to send, though they be for his good." 

Mutual forbearance was one of the crosses and mortifications 
he especially recommended to his missionaries and Daughters 
of Charity. 

He wrote to the missionaries, on tlic 13th cf August, 1G50 : 
"It is with difficulty we succeed in loving the evil that comes 
to us from others. We are more susceptible of grief than of 
pleasure ; the sting of the rose remains longer than its scent. 
The means to equalize this disparity is to embrace, with as 
much willingness, whatever may mortify natiuv as what may 
deprive it of pleasure, to incline our heart to suffering by the 
advantage it brings, and to be prepared to receive it, so that, 
Avhenit does come, we may neither be surprised nor saddened. 

"The Spiritual Combat counsels to represent to oneself alltlie 
untoward accidents that can arise, to struggle against them, 
and exercise oneself in the combat until one feels himself the 
yictor, that is, resolved to suffer all willingly should they, in 
reality, come. However, we should not imagine extreme evils 
of which the bare thought affrights, such as certain tortures of 
martyrs, but rather picture ourselves in contempt, calumniated, 
down with a fever and the like." 

He wrote to the Daughters of Charity, on the 8th of March, 
1G48: I pray you, bear with one another. You go in com 
pany to eternity, and you are all spouses of Jesus Christ, our 
Savior; be united, then, more and more. Let no one take it to 
heart if another contradicts her, or if others speak and murmur 
against her. There is not a person in the world who has not 
something to endure from his neighbor. Even our Lord, 
Himself, among His disciples did not escape. We must pass 
by this way, or else live in a desert, separated from all. But 
woe to him who is alone! Let us, then, go together cheer 
fully and sweetly. We belong to God and are obliged to 
accept what He ordains and what lie permits. We are re 
pulsed, our actions arc criticised, we are treated worse than 
servants; again, we arc informed on, superiors listen to what 
is said to our disadvantage, the very worst is done against us. 


Oh, Lord, my God, what boautilul opportunities to acquire 
liumility, to exercise sweetness and patience, to make ourselves 
agreeable in the eyes of God, to become beloved of the glorious 
Virgin Mary, and all the heavenly court, and finally, to gain 
the hearts of those who made us surfer, for, sooner or later, 
they will recognise their fault, if we only do our little duty, 
and this we should do diligently and carefully. Let us, then, 
doit in the presence of God, with calmness of mind, with 
sweetness and condescension towards everyone ; in this way, 
our actions will become golden and our recompense will be 
very great. But what must we do to make proper use of the 
contradictions and vexations which God sends us? Wo must 
love them. And the means to love that which is disagreeable? 
First, we must reflect that such was the constant practice of 
our Lord, while on earth, and, generally, such was the prac 
tice of ail the saints ; secondly, none go to Heaven save by way 
of tribulation and penance ; thirdly, to suffer in this world is 
a necessity whether we will or not and only those, who love 
to suffer, do not, suffer; fourthly, it the Sisters of Charity, 
those whom our Lord has chosen among thousands to elevate 
to his love, do not wish to honor His passion in anything, who, 
then, will do so ? You are Daughters of Charity: mortifica 
tion is also a daughter of charity and ought, therefore, be your 
sister. Caress her, then, visit her often in prayer, and be 
mindful of her on occasion/ 

With the intention of mortifying an excessive tenderness for 
parents, he rarely gave permission to visit them. I cannot 
advise you," he would write, " to go visit your parents, be 
cause our Lord has left us an entirely different coun 
sel, not wishing 1 one of hi s disciples to go home to 
bury his dead father, nor another to return and sell what 
he had to distribute it to the poor. And yet these were mo 
tives very holy and urgent. To this counsel He added His 
example. He returned to His own country but once, and 
then his countrymen endeavored to precipitate Him from the 
summit of a mountain. He permitted this, I think, to repre 
sent to us the spiritual dangers we incur by similar visits. 
Hencs, you will perform an action very agreeable to God by 


mortifying nature in refusing it the journey. At the hour of 
death you will experience an indescribable consolation for hav 
ing remained steadfast at your post, when flesh and blood 
united to divert you from it. I assure you, the advice I give 
you is what I would follow myself. "\Veought to have a very 
great difficulty in leaving the works of God for temporal 
affairs, and still more when it is only for a passing gratifica 
tion, such as revisiting our home and to be seen by our family. 
For, when the time of separation comes, there is nothing but 
grief and tears; and, what is worse, these often remain after 
wards subjects of distraction to servants of God, and, having 
received impressions and ideas but little conformed to their 
state of life, they sometimes lose the affection they had 
for their exercises." 

The Saint has left; us two conferences on this subject of 
mortification, the one of the Gth of January, 1657, to the 
Daughters of Charity, tho oth-r of the 2d of May, 1059, to the 
missionaries. In the confereuc3 to the Daughters of Charity 
he identifies mortification with Christian perfoaLio.i : "Rivers," 
he said, " have their currents, and the boats that follow the 
stream constantly move, even without labor, because the river 
carries them on. But, if you wish the boat to go against the 
current you must employ hordes, or oars, and if the oar be not 
constantly in the hand, the boat recedes in the direction whence 
it came. New, it is the same with those who wish to serve 
God. If they desire to approach Him and advance in His 
good graces, they must labor, without ceasing, to make new 
progress in virtue; otherwise, they will discover that, instead 
of Hearing Him, the distance insensibly increases, themselves 
falling back and drifting away. For, the practice oi virtue is 
not according to nature. Nature inclines to the possession of 
beautiful objects, to the enjoyment of sensual pleasures and 
the craving after esteem and praise. This is our bent, and wo 
follow it without difficulty,, because 1 it is as a current that sweeps 
us along. The sentiments of grace are totally opposed to those 
of nature. Grace leads towards things of Heaven and to the 
practice of virtue ; it wills that the appetite be mortified, and 
satisfactions renounced. Nature tends towards things of earth, 


wills that we follow our passions,that we enjoy our pleasures, 
and drain their cup to the last drop. It is, therefore, certain, 
that if we do not continually labor to mortify ourselves and 
resist our passions, they will obtain the upperhand, and we will 
follow the propensities of corrupt nature. During life we must 
not cease laboring to mortify ourselves ; and, even though we 
had already one foot in Paradise, we should not relax in our 
efforts to place the other there also, lest the foot outside succeed 
in withdrawing the one within, and thus ruin all." 

The Saint then explained the practice of mortification, both 
interior and exterior, almost as we see in the following confer 
ence given on the 2d of May, 1659. 

On that day he took as a text these words of Oar Savior: 
" // any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, .iul 
take up Iti* cross." (Matt. xvi. 24. Luke ix. 23.) And he com 
mented. thus : " Our Lord says to us, you wish to come after 
me? Very well. You wish to conform yourlife to mine? Very 
good, again. But do you know that you must begin by re 
nouncing yourself, and continue by carrying your cross ? And 
this is not given to all ; very fe\v receive this grace. Hence it 
is that the^many thousands, who followed to hear, abandoned 
Him and withdrew, not being found worthy to be His disciples 
because they did not possess the necessary dispositions to over 
come themselves, t:> deny themselves, and to carry their cross. 
What is meant by denying oneself? It is the renouncing 
of our judgment, our will, our senses, and of our relations. 
What a life ! To renounce one s entire self for the love of God, 
to conform one s judgment to that of another, to submit one s 
will, through virtue, to whom we should, and submit to the 
judgment of God in all things! It is thus that our Savior did. 
By judgmen t we understand knowledge, intelligence,and under 
standing. The Son of God was pleased to have it known that 
He had no judgment of His own. that His judgment was that 
of His Father, as He gave us to understand by these words: 
My doctrine i x not Mine, but of Him that sent Me? (John yii. 
1C.) I attend to the judgment He passes on things and I judge 
the same. How profitable it is for a Christian to submit his 
lights and reason for the love of God ! Who denies himself 


better than he who surrenders his judgment? A question is 
proposed and each gives his opinion. Now, to renounce one 
self in such a case it is not required to refuse to say what we 
think; we ought to present our reasons ; but he, whose judg 
ment is submissive, prefers to follow that of another rather 
than his own. Let us, then, as did Our Savior, accord our 
judgment with that of God, which is known to us by the sacred 
Scriptures, and let us use it only when oar rules and our super 
iors are silent. In that case, in the name of the Lord, we 
can form our reasoning according to the sense most conformed 
to the spirit of the Gospel. 

"Our Lord has equally renounced His will : * For 1 always 
do the things that phase, Him? (John viii, 29). If we do the 
same we will be worthy to belong to His school. But, as long 
as we enjoy our own will, we cannot be in a proper disposition 
to follow Thee. my Savior; we will obtain no merit in bear 
ing with our trials, nor have any part with Thee. 

"We should mortify our interior and exterior senses, watch 
continually over them and take especial care to subject 
them to God. Curiosity of the eyes is frequent and dangerous. 
And curiosity in hearing, oh ! what, a power it has to run away 
with our minds! Curiosity was the ruin of our first father, 
and he would have been totally lost had he not found the path 
of penance. Curiosity of touch may also have unfortunate 
results. We must, then, have a guard over ourselves that we 
give no rein to our passions, nor satisfy our senses. 

"There is another thing which seems hard ; still we must 
bow the head and yield. The Son of God has said in precise 
terms that, to renounce ourselves, we must hate our parents. 
But this is understood when they wish to hinder us from going 
to Him ; for when they themselves conduct us to Him, or 
leave us free, He does not require of us this hatred. Again, 
it is not, properly speaking, to hate them, but to behave as if 
we did, 1 mean we must abandon them, and disobey them 
when they interpose to prevent us from obeying God and fol 
lowing Jesus Christ. 

"jLet us then renounce our parents, our country, . . ." 
Then the Saint cited himself as an example to prove what 
danger there is in too great a tenderness for family, and recalled 


that voyage of 1G23, which we have already recited; he then 
proceeded : " Let us renounce the recollections of our past 
lives. Otherwise, we will turn with a lingering pleasure to our 
youthful follies, we will dwell on the affections we had, and on 
the vexations and sorrows we experienced. Now, nothing so 
much inflames the appetite for forbidden things as the recol 
lection of their false joys. 

" Let us renounce the devil and his pomps. But, sir, you 
will say to me, we are poor priests who have already done so; 
we have but plain clothing, pocr furniture and nothing that 
savors of pomp! Oh, gentlemen and my brothers, let us not 
be deceived in this! Though we have poor raiment and mean 
rooms, can we not have a pompous spirit ? Alas ! yes. To aim 
to preach fine sermons, to be spoken of, to publish the good 
we do, to grow proud, this is to have the spirit of pomp. And, 
to combat this vice, it is preferable to do a thing less well 
than to take complacency in having done it well. We must 
renounce vanity and human applause ; we must give ourselves 
to God, my brethren, so that we may separate ourselves from 
self-esteem and from the praise of the world, in which the pomp 
of spirit consists. It were better to be bound hand and foot, and 
cast into a burning fire, than to do or say anything to please 
men. In this connection, a celebrated preacher said to me, 
some days ago: Sir, when once a minister of the Gospel seeks 
after the honor and applause of men, he delivers himself up 
to the tyranny of the public, and, thinking to make himself 
important by his beautiful discourses, he becomes the slave of 
a vain and frivolous reputation. To this we may add that he, 
who utters forth rich thoughts in a pompous style, is opposed 
to the spirit of Our Lord, who said: Blessed are the poor in 
spirit. . (Matt. iii. 5.) Herein the eternal Wisdom shows how 
carefully evangelical laborers should avoid grandeur in action 
and word, and adopt a simple, humble, and common manner 
of speech and conduct, whereof He Himself has been pleased 
to give us the example. It is the evil spirit that delivers us to 
this tyranny of desiring to gain applause, and who, perceiving 
us disposed to ro simply about performing our duty, whispers 
to us: That is, indeed, mean ; it is too trivial, and very un* 
worthy he grandeur and majesty of Christian truth ! Beware 


of such suggestions, my brethren ; reject these vanities, I pray 
you by the bowels of the mercy of Our Lord, renounce this 
worldly and diabolic ostentation. Keep constantly before your 
eyes the simple and humble manner ol Our Lord, of Him Who 
could have given renown to His works and sovereign efficacy 
to His word, -and yet did not wish to do so; but, going still 
further, the more to confound our pride by His admirable hu 
miliations, He has willed I hat His disciples should do greater 
things than He Himself. You will do, He says to them, 
tvkat I do, an l you will do still more. 1 But, O Lord, why dost 
Thou wish that, doing what Thou hast done, they do still more? 
It is, gentlemen, because Our Lord permits Himself to be out 
done in public actions in order to excel in those that are hum 
ble and secret; He desires the fruits of the Gospel, and not the 
noise of the world, and hence He has done more through His 
servants than by Himself. He has wished that St. Peter should 
convert, at one time, three thousand, and at another, five thou 
sand persons, and that the entire earth should be enlightened 
by His Apostles, whilst He, Himself, though the Light of the 
World, preached only in Jerusalem audits neighborhood ; He 
preached there, knowing that He would succeed less than 
elsewhere ; yes, lie addressed Himself to the Jews as the peo 
ple most likely and capable of contemning and contradicting 
Him. He, then, has done but little, and His disciples, igno 
rant and uncouth, animated with His spirit, have done more 
than He. Why this? To give us an example of perfect hu 
mility. Oh, gentlemen, why not follow the example of such 
a Divine Master? Why not always yield to others tliu advan 
tage, and choose for ourselves the worst and most humiliating 
works? For, assuredly, this is the most agreeable and the 
most honorable to Our Lord, and He ought to be our only 
aim and object. Lot us, then, adopt His example. Here is a 
public action I perform; I can, in doing it, attract great at 
tention ; I will not do so, I will omit such and such which 
might give it some brilliancy, and draw on myself some praise. 
Two thoughts come to my mind: I will give expression to the 
less fine for humility s sake, and retain the more beaut : ful to 
sacrifice it to God in the secret of my heart. 

"There is still another certain passion that is dominant in 


many, and which we must curefully renounce : it is this im 
moderate desire of health and of being well, and this excessive 
care for its possession that urge us to do both the possible 
and the impossible for the well-being of our body. For this 
undue solicitude and this fear of suffering any inconvenience, 
which we perceive in certain persons, who apply their whole 
mind and entire attention to the care of their poor little life, 
are great impediments in the service of God, for they take 
away the liberty to follow Jesus Christ. Oh, gentlemen and 
my brothers, we are the disciples of this Divine Savior, and 
yet He finds us enchained slaves ! And bound to what? To 
a little health, to an imaginary remedy, to an infirmary where 
all our desires will be attended to, to a house wherein we will 
be satisfied, to a walk we take to recreate ourselves, to a ivpose 
that savors of laziness. But, some one will object, t the 
doctor counselled me not to apply myself so much, to take the 
air, he advised a change in the climate. Oh, misery and 
weakness! Do the great in the world leave their ordinary 
abode because they sometimes are indisposed ? Does a bishop 
leave his diocese ? A governor, his province? The citizen, 
his city? The merchant, his house? Do kings, themselves, 
do this ? Rarely ; and when they are taken sick, they remain 
where they happen to be. The late king fell sick at St. Ger- 
main-en-Laye. and, without having himself removed else 
where, he continued there four or five months, in fact up to 
the time of his death, which was truly Christian, and worthy of 
a king most Christian. Attachment to life does not lack tor 
pretext. I will be told: It is a participation of the Deity, 
and therefore must be preserved. Yes, but it is self-love that 
seeks to conserve it. This is Avhy our Lord has said: For 
whosoever shall save hi* life shall lose it, (Matt, xvi, 25). And 
elsewhere He adds that there can be no greater proof of love 
than to give one s life for his friend. But is not God our 
friend ? And our neighbor, is He not also our friend? Would 
we not be unworthy to enjoy the existence He has given us, 
did we refuse to employ it for objects so noble? 

"Another way to renounce ourselves is to put off the old 
man and clothe ourselves with the new, and this we do \vhen 

MOirriMCATlON. 293 

"we endeavor to free ourselves from our passions and imperfec 
tions. In this way he who was in the filth of sin become* 
purified. I was addicted to pride. I delivered myself by making 
acts of humility. Whilst engaged in remedying my past negli 
gence and combating my present cowardice, what do I ? I 
purge myself of the old leaven that corrupts the entire mass, and 
I infuse life into all my actions by my vigilance and atten 
tion. Consequently, to labor thus a whole life-time, not only 
in correcting the vile and evil inclinations, but also in elevat 
ing our habits ;ind our occupations to the level of the new 
man, Our Lord Jesus Christ, is to put away incessantly tho 
old Adam and to clothe ourselves with the new. 

"May it please God to give us the grace to become like to 
a good vine-dresser, who has his pruning knife always, about 
him that he may cut away whatever he meets hurtful to the 
vines. And if they sprout more than he desires, and continu 
ally shoot out useless wood, he has his knife always ready, and 
often he holds it in his hand to lop off, as soon as he perceives 
it, whatever may be superfluous, that the sap may mount- to 
the branches which arc to bear fruit. It is thus we ought- to 
cut away the unwholesome productions of depraved nature 
that never wearies in putting forth the shoots of its corrup 
tion ; and then, they will not prevent Jesus Christ, Who rs 
compared to the vine and Who compares us to the branches, 
from rendering us abundantly fruitful in the practice of holy 

"Courage, then, let us work at mortification. Let no day 
pass without our making three or four acts of it, and thus w.e 
will become true disciples of Jesus Christ." 




Chastity is the daughter of mortification. By mortification, 
in truth, (lie flesh is so reduced that the body seems no longer 
to exist, and, on the ruins of the sense, purity, like a heaven 
ly flower, springs up. It is the life of angels under a material 
envelope. Such was the modesty of Vincent de Paul, and it 
was reflected from his heart on his countenance, and passed 
into his every word and his entire conduct. Whether he 
spoke or wrote, Ins words were always charitable ; but never, 
when addressing a female, whether secular or religious, did he- 
use a word too soft or too tender. He even refrained from 
the use of any expression which, though proper and becoming, 
might yet inspire ihe slightest evil thought. The word 
chastity was too expressive for his sensitiveness, because it 
suggested the thought of the contrary vice, and he preferred 
the more comprehensive term of purity. If he occasion 
to speak of any fallen creature he designated her crime only 
by the vague expressions of weakness and misfortune, in order 
to remove all impure imagination, and herself he never termed 
other than fallen creature. 

Pure as an angel, and so confirmed in grace that he no 
longer felt the sting of the flesh, he, nevertheless, made use of 
all the precautions of a man sti l subject to the assault of 
corrupt nature. We have told of his mortification. Who will 
describe his subjugation of the senses, particularly of his eyes, 
which he never fixed on any woman ? With none did he confer 


alone, in private, but always before witnesses, and with ths 


door of the apartment open. Bo the condition of the person, 
who wished to speak with him, what it -might, he never went, 
save accompanied by a brother who had a standing order to keep 
"him in sight. One day, the lady of the Marshall of Schom- 
berg came to the parlor of St. Lazarus, and the brother, out 
of respect and consideration, withdrew, drawing the door after 
him. Vincent immediately called out to him: "What are 
you doing, my brother? You know your duty is to keep the 
door open and your eyes on me." 

He acted in fhe same manner with his ladies and even with 
his Daughters of Charity; he never, without necessity, visited 
either. * I must soon go to La Chapelle," he one day wrote 
to Mademoiselle Le Gras, "if there be any need of my going 
to your house you will please send me word. I am well 
pleased not to go otherwise, according to the decision we 
agreed on from the very beginning. 

And, at another time: "If }ou desire I should have the 
benefit of seeing you in your sickness, acquaint me. I have 
made ifc a law never to visit, you unless called for some necess 
ary or very useful purpose." 

When obliged to confer with Mademoiselle Le Grus or witb 
her Daughters, ho observed the same rules of prudence ai 
with persons of the world. 

The purity of Vincent, as are all Christian virtues, was ex-" 
pansive and conquering. One of his devotions was to with 
draw women and young girls from the perils to which he knew 
them to be exposed. Thus, he brought from Lorraine to Paris 
a number of young girls whose virtue was, at the same time, "a 
prey to the temptation of hunger, always an evil counselor. 
and the brutality of an undisciplined soldiery. He placed 
them with Madmoiselle le Gras. who, with the assistance of the 
Ladies of Charity, succeeded in obtaining for them situations 
in the best families in Paris, some as maids in waiting, others 
as house servants, each according to her qualifications 

He Avas no less devoted in snatching from vice those who 
had already fallen. lie favored and encouraged all the insti- 
utions for penance that existed in his time, and more portio 


ularly the Magdalene, where he sent the Daughters of the Vis 
itation, whose sweetness and charity seemed the virtues most 
proper to win over the poor penitents.* He, himself, toward 
the close cf his life, formed the project of building a vast hos 
pital for young girls and abandoned females, and especially 
those who make an infamous traffic of their honor. lie held 
on the subject numerous and long consultations with persons 
of piety ; and, notwithstanding the difficulties of such an en 
terprise, he would, doubtless, had not death intervened, have 
carried it into successful execution. Others inherited his idea 
and realized it under different, forms. 


Having such a love of purity, what must he not have done 
to infuse and foster it in his children ? "It is not enough for 
Missionaries," he said, "to excel in this virtue; they are 
obliged moreover to do their utmost so to comport themselves 
that none can have the slightest cause to entertain, in their re 
gard, the faintest suspicion of the contrary vice, because, this 
suspicion, though totally false, would tarnish their reputation 
and prove more prejudicial to their holy occupations than all 
the other crimes that could be falsely imputed to them. Hence, 
we must not rest satisfied in using all ordinary means to guard 
against this evil,but we must, moreover, if necessary, employ ex 
traordinary precautions, such as omitting, at times, to perform 
certain actions, though otherwise lawful, and even good and 
holv, as visiting the sick poor, when, in the judgment of su 
periors, such actions might furnish occasion to these sus 

And for this reason he answered those who asked if they 
should take with them a companion when visiting the sick : 
0, my Jesus ! Sir, you must be vigilant not to fail therein. 
When the Son of God ordained that His disciples should go 
two and two together, He saw, no doubt, the great danger that 
would result in sending them alone. Now, who would be rash 
enough to derogate from a usage which He introduced among 

Tht WM before the Sisters of the Visitation were In the be 
ginning of their institute their duties were similar to those of the Si.sters of 


His disciples, and which the Congregation has always follow 
ed? Experience has taught a number of communities of re 
ligious women that it is necessary, on account of the abuse* 
that have arisen at such times and places, to leave the door of 
the infirmary open, and have the curtains of the bed drawn 
back, while the confessor administers the sacraments, and re 
mains by the sick sister." 

He wrote to another : 1< I have recommended to the Daugh 
ters of Charity never to permit men to enter their rooms,- ei 
ther lay persons or ecclesiastics, and no more those of the 
Congregation than others ; and I have begged them to close 
the door ev?n on myself, should I wish to enter. I except, of 
course, oases of sickness ; for, in case of necessity, the sister in- 
firmarian can conduct the priest, or a brother may accompany 
him, but never otherwise." 

One of his priests having, one day,asked him in simplicity, if 
it were expedient to feel the pulse of the sick so as to be able 
to judge of the necessity of administering the last succors of 
religion, he replied : " That practice must be carefully avoid 
ed, for the evil spirit might easily make use of it to tempt the- 
living and even the dying. The devil, in this last passage, 
forges arrows of all woods wherewith to strike the soul. The 
strength of the passions may remain though the body be ema 
ciated. You should call to mind the example of that Saint, 
who, having separated from his wife with her consent, would 
not, while sick, allow her to touch him, crying out with what 
voice he had that there was still fire under the ashes. Besidds, 
if you wish to know the symptoms of approaching dissolution, 
ask some attendant or some other person present to do you 
that favor, there being less danger for him ; or else inform 
yourself of what the doctor says. But, on no account, run the 
risk of touching either girl or woman under any pretense what 
ever. " 

In the sam-3 sense, he wrote one day to one of his brothers to 
abstain from all intercourse, though his motives and intention 
were pure, with a person of the other sex : Because," lie said, 
in such particular conversations, if there be no evil, there -is 
always the occasion of thinking evil; and, moreover, the means 


to preserve purity is to shun the occasions that may sully it." 

However, the Saint would not have the temptations against 
this virtue alarm them, still less be the occasion of their aban 
doning their vocation. He wrote to a brother, thus tempted, 
who desired to become a hermit: " On the one hand, I have 
been consoled by your letter, in seeing the candor with which 
yon disclose what passes within you ; but, on the other, it has 
given me a pain similar to that Si. Bernard formerly received 
from one of his monks, who, under pretext of greater regular 
ity, desiredjto leave his vocation and enter another order, though 
the holy abbot t assured him it was a temptation, and told him 
that the evil one desired nothing better than this change, 
knowing well that, could he force him to abandon his first, 
state, it would be an easy matter to withdraw him from the 
xt cond, and then precipitate him into a disorderly state of life, 
*3 it actually happened. What I can say to you, my dear 
brother, is that, if you be not continent in the Congregation 
of the Mission, you will not in any condition in the world, and 
of this I assure yon. Be careful lest there be levity in your 
.desire for change; if not, then, after prayer, which is always 
,mc j eessiry in all needs, the remedy will be to reflect that there 
-is no stite in life in which there are no dryness and weariness, 
aivd, at times, longings for change. After this consideration, 
think that, God having called you to the congregation in 
which you are, He, very likely, has attached to it the grace of 
* jour salvation, which, not having called you, He will refuse you 
elsewhere. The second remedy against temptations of the flesh 
is lo fly all communication with and the sight of those persons 
\vho give rise to them, and, moreover, to reveal them immedi 
ately to your director, who will give you other remedies. I 
would, besides, advise you to have a great confidence in Our 
Lord, and in the assistance of the immaculate Virgin, His 
mother, to whom I will frequently recommend you," 

Treating, one day, of this subject of chastity, after his usual 
fashion, that is, in its motives, its nature, its means, he ad 
duced as the principal motive the great aversion of Our Lord 
for whatever seemed contrary to this virtue: " So much," said 
he, - that, intending to becom* man. He did not wish it to be 


in the ordinary manner-, bur, by the operation of the Holy 
Ghtst, in a way entirely supernatural, so that He, b^ing true. 
man, as other men, His Mother remained always chaste and n 
Virgin. Oh, my Lord ! there must be something grand in this 
virtue, since the Holy of Holies has for its sake willed to abro 
gate in His conception and His birth the laws of nature. 

"Our Lord has been pleased to permit Himself to bo calum 
niated, to b2 called a seducer, a drinker, one possessed by 
the devil, and so on ; but He never allowed even His greatest 
enemies to repro.ich Him with the least thing against chastity. 

"Oh, my Savior! to Thee we address ourselves to obtain 
this so rare a virtue. Nature has not the power to grant it; oir 
the contrary, it excites within us thousands upon thousands 
of impure temptations. 

" Our Lord goes farther, and says: He who does not leave 
his wife is not worthy of Me. Hence, the Apostles and the 
Disciples, who were married, separated from their wives to 
follow Him, and so did the wives from their husbands. Many* 
of the first Christians followed this example, and had no furt-ner" 
matrimonial intercourse. But the demon, the enemy of this 
virtue, soon succeeded in breaking down in men this beautiful 
resolution. Worldly intercourse and the immense weakness of 
nature induced some to return to a life less pure. This is tTre 
reason why a great number, fearing they did not possess 
strength sufficient to live in a state of chastity in the world, 
fled into the deserts of Lybia and Egypt, there to lead the life 
of angels. Since tluit time, monasteries have b?en established 
where those who. tearing themselves away from sin nd the 
pleasures of the flesh, and wishing to live a chaste life, are 

"There are two kinds of chastity. The first is a virtue, 
which, in general, moderates the desires of carnal pleasures. 
It concerns married persons and is termed conjugal chastity. 
But there is another chastity which consists in extirpating 
from the heart all impure affections. A virtue IMIV, and one 
which the demon does his utmost to snatch from the most 
holy souls especially. The most holy things serve him as means 
to tempt us with impurity. Oh, Lord, what is to be done in 


those terrible moments ? Fly to God, take refuge in the 
wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us then, 0, my God, 
to pluck from our hearts these accursed affections, to erase 
( r.)m our memories all these wicked remembrances! 

< There are, also, two kinds of purity, purity of the body 
and purity of the heart. He who possesses purity of the body 
has not, therefore, chastity. He must add purity of the heart, 
which is the form and essence of this virtue. Chastity, in 
truth, drives away all evil thoughts from the imagination, 
from the memory and from tho mind. We should, then, di 
rect all our efforts against our heart in order to become, 
masters, and root out all that can give rise to any image con 
trary to this sublime virtue. 

"The means to preserve chastity arc, Brat, vigilance over 
the senses, and particularly over sight and hearing. A guard 
over the eyes: O, sight how dangerous thou art ! O how evil 
it is to allow the eyes to wander here and there and rest on all 
kinds of objects! David, that holy man, by this became an 
adulterer and a homicide. A guard ov?r the hearing: very 
many would never have known what impurity was had they 
not seen and heard those comedians and buffoons, who repre 
sent unbecoming actions and rehearseevil discourse. Oh, what; 
danger there is in listening to such things! We must, then, em 
ploy the greatest vigilance over our senses; over the sight, the 
sight, I say, yes, the sighc; over the hearing, and so of all the 
other external senses, the touch, too, and as Car as possible 
make ourselves masters. Secondly, to fly all private conversa 
tion with persons of the other sex. Thirdly, to practise so 
briety, especially in the use of wine. Fourthly, to shun idleness; 
when the devil finds a person idle, he does everything to make 
him succumb. Oh, what a fine opportunity he has to tempt 
and torment him by impure representations ! Fifthly, to avoid 
all tender relations and expressions both in conversations and 
in letters." 




With a mortification both interior and exterior, such as we 
have seen, with so absolute a submission to the Divine Will. 
Vincent could not but possess his soul, and maintain over 
himself an empire that retained all his faculties in perfect 
equality. And he did maintain this equality in all things and 
at all times. 

He was composed in his manner of liic, always humble and 
inclined to piety and charity from infancy to old age. 

He wns composed in his holy undertakings; he sustained and 
prosecuted them to their termination amid contradiction of 
every description and trials of every quality. 

He was composed in the inequalities of occupations and 
atfairs, in humiliations and honors, in the slave-pen of Tunis 
and at the Court of Anne of Austria, which forced a bishop to 
exclaim, as has been mentioned: " Mr. Vincent is always 
Mr. Vincent." 

He was composed in losses of property and in those of law, 
during disorder and wars, which could wring from him only this 
cry: " God be praised ;" or this humble and submissive plaint : 
"We will be obliged to go act as curates in the village if God 
do not have pity on us." 

He was composed in misfortunes at sea which deprived his 
children of their all, save life, but which could not turn him 
from the maintenance of the foreign missions. 

He was composed in the losses, still more sensible, of hi? 


best subjects, a loss that caused his son] a profound grief, with 
out, however, troubling, at any time, its unchangeable serenity. 

He was composed in injuries and calumnies, which furnished 
him an occasion of humbling himself before man, and of rejoic 
ing before God for having been judged worthy to suffer 
something for His name. 

He was composed in the perils of life, which could not even 
ruffle his countenance. 

Finally, he was composed till death, which he, seated calmly 
and in peace, received as he would an ordinary visitor. 

Y*"e mention ono or two examples of this admirable equan- 
mity of Vincent in good as in evil fortune. 

In the counsel of the Queen, with no other passion than 
love for God and for the welfare of the State, without preju 
dices, with none of those emotions and outbursts that wound 
men and destroy business, he ever preserved in his soul, in 
his bearing, in his words, and even in his visage, that calm 
and serenity which, proof against all events, leave the mind 
free to think clearly, conciliate hearts, and win them over in 
sensibly to the side of truth and justice. Firm, and, at the 
same time, docile, he was immoveablc in his conscience, but 
ever ready to yield to better advice. Whether his opinion Avere 
adopted or rejected, no word of complaint or censure escaped 
him. Content, in having doiv, 1 his duty, he observed silence 
aftfr the decision, abandoning to God the glory arising from 
the good, and committing to the care of His Providence the 
success of the aiT.tir. See, again, the testimony of the Minister 
Le Pellctier. ( See Page 101.) 

Let us now regard him in misfortune Towards the end of 
1659, Jour missionaries, destined for Madagascar, loll Paris for 
La Rochtlle, the place of embarkation, whilst Estienne. the 
superior of the little band, accompanied by a "brother, directed 
his way bv wa cr in order the more easily to transport the 
baggage ol the mission. A ernpest assailed the two travellers 
and drove them to I he moti^h of the Girondc. A sadden squ ill 
swept away the rudder and the mns s oi their little bark, and 
cast, them on a sand bank anvd socks. The news of the wreck 
and the loss of all the passengers soon spread, and reached 


Paris and La llochelle. Vincent could not doubt the truth of 
this new misfortune. He mourned over Estienne, over this 
young apostle, who, not content with consecrating his person 
to the salvation of the infidel, had also sacrificed, with the 
consent of his relatives, forty thousand francs of his patri 
mony in favor of foreign missions. Moreover, he dreaded the 
consequences of such a loss for the future of the mission of 
Madagascar. Would not, the relative of Estienne, all of high 
rank and credit, lay this loss at his djor, and exert their in 
fluence in impeding so dangerous an enterprise ? Vincent, in 
spite of all, remained calm, both interiorly and exteriorly. 
Not a word, not an expression of his features, revealed his 
sadness, and the three of his brethren to whom he was re 
quired to tell all, but under the seal of a religious secret, were 
compelled to admire the holy courage of the old man. 

Vincent made his arrangements to send another superior tj 
La Rochelle, and the missionary was at his meal, preparatory 
to setting out, when letters came from Bayonne and Bordeaux. 
On two of them, Vincent recognized, and with what joy, the 
handwriting of Estienne. It was he, indeed, Avho recounted 
his miraculous deliverance. And yef, notwithstanding, so great 
a joy succeeding so mortal an anguish, notwithstanding this 
passing, this sudden transition from one extreme to the other 
of human feeling, Vincent gave no sign of delight or of. 
change, either in his words or in his manner. lie thanked, he 
praised and blessed Gcd equally for life us for death. 


Had lie not the right to recommend to his brethren this equa 
nimity which he preserved with so much heroism, and of which, 
moreover, l.e gave them the example even whilst he taught 
them? Thus, on the death of Mr. Portail, his first and dearest 
companion, which happened seven months before his own, he 
wrote: It has pleased God to deprive us of good Mr. Port ail; 
he departed this life the fourth of this month. He had ever 
dreaded death; but teeing it approach he regarded it with 
peace au-l resignation, and he told me several times, wben I 
went to see him, that he no longer felt anv of his former fear. 


He has finished as he lived, in the good use of -suffering, in the 
practice of all virtues and in the desire to consume himself, like 
our Lord, in the accomplishment of the will of God. lie \vas 
one of the first two who labored in the Missions, and he always 
contributed to the other functions of the Congregation, to 
which be has rendered very great service in every way, and in 
losing him it would have lost greatly, did not God dispose all 
things for the best and cause us to find our profit, where we 
imagine only injury. There is reason to hope that this, His 
servant, will be of moie benefit to us in Heaven than he could 
have been on earth. I pray you to render him the customary 

lie wrote, in the same spirit, a month after, on the occasion 
of the loss of Mademoiselle Le Gras; and generally, in every 
instance, on the death of his best and dearest subjects. A last 
quotation: You have not, then, heard of the losses we have 
undergone? Oh, Sir. but they are great, not only in the num 
ber of men whom God has taken iroin us, but also in tUfi 
quality of persons, all being priests, and of the best workers in 
the Congregation. And so, too, they proved themselves, meet 
ing death whilst serving their neighbor, and a death most 
holy and extraordinary. Six of them, without counting a 
brother, died of the pestilence, in Geneva, whilst assisting the 
plague-stricken, and the others have given their temporal life 
to procure that of eternity for the islanders of Madagascar and 
the Hebrides. They ate so many missionaries in Heaven. 
There can be no doubt of it, since they have consumed them 
selves for the sake of charity, and since there can be no greater 
charity than to give one s life for his neighbor, as Jesus Christ 
Himself has said and done. May God, then. Sir, be glorified 
with the sflory He has bestowed upon our confreres, as we have 
reason to believe, and may His good pleasure ever be our 
peace and the calm of our afflicted hearts! I do not tell you 
what was our grief on receiving such iu-\v> coming almost all at 
the same time; it would be :mpi j ri>ii:tb .i to ev press it. You, 
loving th<* Congregation so tenderly, will be able to judge, by 
the pain you will experience, whether we could receive a 
greater stroke without being crushed. 1 




The man so meek, so humble, so gentle, was for all that, 
whenever the interests of truth and justice required, as strong 
and invincible as a wall of brass or a column of iron . 

It is. again, in the Council of Conscience, on that more pub 
lic theatre, where his fortitude distinguished itself, as did his 
equanimity, his humility, as did all his virtues. Without a 
doubt, his natural kindness led him. when he could in con 
science do so, to oblige every one from the humblest plebeian to 
the highest lord or peer; but did any ask what was against his 
rules, then he opposed an insurmountable refusal. In vain did 
intrigue, cupidity, and ambition assail his virtue; without taking 
counsel of either hope or fear, he, as far an in him lay, repulsed 
them from the sanctuary without mercy. For long, he strug 
gled even against Mazarin himself, becoming more and more 
powerful, who, forgetting his ecclesiastical character and obey 
ing only the calculations of his personal ambition, or what he 
termed a reason of state, wished to make friends, not with the 
Mammon of iniquity, as the Gospel has it. but with the sacred 
goods of the Church. In his letter to Clement XL, Fenelon 
wrote: " An incredible discernment of F pints and a singular 
firmness were conspicuous in this man of God. Having regard 
neither for the favor nor the hatred of the great, he consulted 
; only the interest of the church, when, iu the Council of Con 
science, by order of the Queen, Anne of Austria, mother of the 
Kinu r , he gave his advice in relation to the choice of bishops. 
Had the other councilors adhered more constantly to this man, 


who scorned to road the future, certain men, \vlio afterwards 
created great trouble, would have been far removed from the 
episcopal charge." Such, too, was the sentiment of Victor de 
Meliand, Bishop of A let, who speaks in similar terms of the in 
vincible fineness and fortitude of soul with which the man of 
God neither permitting himself to be moved by entreaties nor 
alarmed by threats, refused his vote, in the promotion to 
pielacies and benefices, to those, whose mi worthiness was 
known to him, no matter what their rank, their condition, or 
their dignity. The laity rendered to Vincent, on this point, the 
same testimony as the clergy. "It was the public esteem in 
which he was held. the president of the parliament, de Lamoig- 
non, has deposed, "that induced the Queen to call him to the 
Council of Conscience; but this honor did not change his mode 
of life. In difficult circumstances he spoke with a firmness 
worthy the apostles; no human consideration could persuade 
him to dissemble the truth in the smallest degree, and lie never 
made any other use of the confidence reposed in him by the 
great, than to inspire them with the sentiments they should 

The instances of this constancy are innumerable. A lady of 
high rank, having besought him to obtain from the King a bene 
fice for one of her children, he answered: Pardon me, madam, 
I cnn have nothing to do in the matter." Astonished at first, 
in bein<r less favorably received by a poor priest than she 
would have been by the greatest lords, then carried away by 
pride and passion, she said: "Indeed, sir, your assistance is 
unnecessary, I know of other ways to obtain my request. I 
have done you too much honor to address you, and it is readily 
seen that yon do not, as }-et, understand how to behave towards 
ladies of my rank. Vincent s further answer was silence over 
which even insult- had no power. In similar circumstances, if 
he did answer anything it was simply: " Madam, our rules and 
my conscience do not give me the liberty of obeying you in 
this; therefore, I beg you. hold me excused." Or. again, it 
was a personal argument he opposed to the solicitor, as he did 
to a judge of a superior court who, meeting him on the street, 
thought to gain him to his interest. To pretended friendship 
and to anirer, to flatten 1 and to ingulf, the Saint con tented himself 


with answering: "Sir, you endeavor, as I wish to believe, to 
acquit yourself worthily of your duty, and T ought to do the 
same in mine." 

He needed still greater fortitude when they came to him on 
the part of the Queen. A young man of family had asked of 
the Queen an abbey. He obtained his request on condition 
that Vincent would not object. He, then, accompanied by his 
tutor, went to St. Lazarus. They opened with the ordinary 
compliments of politeness, then expressed the anticipated 
thanks of the entire family and recounted a long list of present 
and future qualities of the claimant; all which proved more the 
desire to obtain the benefice than the presence of the required 
merit To this picture, Vincent, previously informed, meekly 
opposed another of contrary hues, and concluded with a refusal 
which he couched in his accustomed phrase: "I, therefore, beg 
you, sir, not to take it ill if I refuse my consent to a thing of which 
God will demand of me an account," At these words the tutor 
rose and advanced towards the Saint with clenched fists, pouring 
out at the same time a torrent of abuse; then, seeing that ho 
could not even disturb his tranquility he departed, but Vincent 
accompanied him, and, with more than ordinary politeness, 
reconducted master and pupil as far as their carriage 

But what was to be done when Mazarin, no\v all powerful, 
with his policy for his only counselor, alone named to the 
ecclesiastical beneQces, and no longer proposed but the ratifica 
tion of an accomplished fact? Even then fortitude did not 
abandon Vincent. He strove to enlighten the religion of the 
Queen, and obtained from her the choice, at least, of worthy 


This is how he merited the following testimony from Clement 
XL, in his bull of canonization: When the nobles recom 
mended to him their sons and solicited him by prayers or threats, 
he disdained their offers as lie trampled under foot their men 
ace*. Never did this soul, strong and robust, wish to make 
powerful fiionds to the detriment of the inheritance of Christ 
and at the expense of the cross, or compromise, through fear, 
the evils wherewith his enemies threatened him." 

lie showed himself strong, again, in the direction of the 
communities confided to his care, and notably of those of the 


Visitation. He courageously closed them to all that could intro. 
duce either the spirit of the world or the errors then prevailing. 
With a holy and disinterested firmness he refused admission to 
ladies of the highest rank, to princesses, even, who sought his 
consent to lie received as boarders, some to gratify their 
curiosity, others to satisfy a mistaken devotion. The lady 
benefactors were the only exception and he had an exact list 
of their names. And generosity alone could not acquire with 
him the title of benefactress; a puie faith and solid virtue were 
moreover necessary. For example: the monastery of St. 
Antoine street could hope for groat advantages from a lady, 
who had already, during the two years she was with the nuns, 
donated a sum of fifty thousand livres, and who had given to 
another monastery, less scrupulous, the sum of three hundred 
thousand. But she desired to be guided by the advice of the 
new sectaries, and wished to introduce into the convent her 
Jansenist director. Vincent had the fifty thousand francs 
returned, and then dismissed her. To all temporal advantages 
he preferred the spiritual good of communities. He often 
reaped only hatred and persecution. Thus a high l>ora dame, 
to whom he had closed the door of the house at St. Denis, 
would not permit hi in to give a mission on her lands; but that 
did not influence him. he remained inflexible. In 1658, a 
messenger came to inform him that Madam Pay en , mother-in- 
law of Mister Lionne, was at the gate of the monastery of St. 
Antoine street, and demanded admission to see a little 
daughter of the minister, who was dangerously ill and could 
not be removed. He answered: "lam Madam Pay en s most 
humble servant, and desire greatly to serve her. But my rule 
is to grant admission to none. I have refused Madam de 
Nemours, Madam de Longueville, and the Princess de Carignan, 
who will never forgive me. What would these ladies say 
were they to learn of the exception? Besides it would be 
against my conscience. And the sight of Madam Payen will 
not recall the child to life." 

He wns firm even ngainst gratitude. Never did he manifest 
such fortitude as on one occasion when he was obliged to resist 
the entrc: ties of Adrien Le Bon, former prior of St. Lazarus, to 
whom he had vowed so much respect and gratitude. Through 


Vincent s advice, and by order of the queen, an abbess of high 
familv, but who had given her scandals a renown equal to that, 
of her high birth, was imprisoned. The prior, who was under 
o-reat obligations to the abbess, was charged by her with 
obtaining her freedom. He accepted, and all the more willing 
ly, as, in this case like in others, he believed he had but to say 
a word to Vincent to attain his purpose. What, then, were his 
surprise, and astonishment, when he saw tiiat not only his first 
request, but all his continued persistence, i ell before the steady 
refusal of the holy man! Tranquil and respectful, but resolute. 
Vincent simply answered: " I cannot betray my conscience;! 
be<r YOU to excuse me." " Whit, sir," cried the prior wounded. 

O * 

is this the treatment I receive at your hands after having 
given you my house? Is this the return for all the benefits I 
have rendered you and your Congregation!" "It is true," 
replied Vincent deeply grieved, "it is true you have laden us 
with goods and honors, and our obligations to you are those of 
children to their lather; but be pleased, sir, to take it all 
back, if we merit it only at the sacrifice of God and our con 

Finally, the entire life of Vincent de I atil. so many per.-ist- 
ent efforts against error and evil, so many religious and charit 
able institutions established and maintained in spite of a 
thousand difficulties that would deter and dishearten the most 
generous, abundantly testify to his heroic fortitude and con 

In some of the incidents above related wo, have seen his 
patience in company with his fortitude,, for lie ever found 
means to practise several virtues at the same time. 

Mis patience was remarkable under the abue and evil treat 
ment his courageous resistance to ambition and cupidity 
brought down on his devoted liea*!. A. for example, on that 


day when, having obtained from the queen the retraction of tho 
promise of a "bishopric made to a dutchess, and being commis 
sioned by her to notify the lady of this decision, he was 
received with an outburst of rage. The dutchess, not feeling 
herself sufficiently revenged by the torrent of abuse she had 
lavished on him, seized a foot-stool and threw it at his head. 


iriaking a gash from which the blood flowed freely. Vincent, 
unmoved whilst the storm raged, was almost; felled by this 
stroke. He withdrew without a word, covering his face, all 
blood, with his handkerchief. From the noise he had heard 
and at the sight of Vincent, the brother, who had accompanied 
him and whom he had left in the ante-chamber, divined all. 
Fired with indignation, he cried out that his father, a priest,, 
and a minister of the king, should not be thus treated with im 
punity, and he rushed towards the apartment. Vincent threw 
himself before him: " You have no business there, my brother; 
this is the way. Come, let us go." And he led him with him. 
" Is it not," he added on leaving, "a wonderful thing to see 
how far the tenderness of a mother for her son can go?" This 
was all his vengeance. "Witness, again, that other day when, 
publicly maltreated at the very gate of St. Lazarus by a lord 
whose son he had refused to recommend: " You are right, sir," 
he said to him throwing himself at his feet,"! am a wretch 
and a sinner." 

Again, all those numerous instances of evil treatment and 
abuse at the hands of the poor, who laid at his door the public 
distress, or complained to have not received enough, to which 
Ire quietly returned only these words: "Go, and pray to God." 
And, finally, witness his behavior towards his adversary in 
the Orsigny farm lawsuit. The latter wns prodigal in his 
slanderous abuse of Vincent and his Congregation. Vincent 
could have exacted reparation of honor. He would not permit 
his lawyer to reply. "Oar Lord has suffered far more," was 
his only answer to those who urged him to defend himself; and, 
as in the passion of the Savior, this patience and silence excited 
the admiration of the court and of his opponent himself. 

lie was patient in the importunities, the urgent solicitations, 
the i neon si d-e rate requests, and the offensive answers to which 
he was every day subje; t. and which, instead of drawing from 
him a bitter or a sharp word, or any sign of impatience, served, 
on the contrary, to induce him to act and spcr.k, if possible, 
wjth more calmness and more meekness. 

Hi was patient in the losses, oftentimes not inconsiderable, 
of the Congregation when they brought him into contempt. 


His patience, in such cases, was not only resigned, but joyous, 
for he saw an opportunity of practising humility, poverty and 
nil other virtues. 

His patience was heroic in the loss of subjects as well as of 
property, and of subjects the most dear aad most necessary. 
He then wrote: "Through the mercy of God. my soul is in 
peace, because this loss happens by the good pleasure of God. 
It is true, T sometimes fear, that my sins are the cause; but, 
recognizing, even in this, the good pleasure of God, I accept 
all with a good heart." 

The good pleasure, the will of God was, in effect, the first 
foundation of his patience. He said with the prophet: "Shall 
here be evil in the city tvhich the Lord hath not done?" (Amos iii. 6. ) 
Another motive for his patience he found in these words of St. 
Paul: And God is faithful, who will not i>u/er you to be tempted 
above fiat which you are able; but loitt mate also ivith tempta 
tion issue, that you miy be able to bear if." 1 (I. Cor., x-13.) 


Afflictions," he taught, " are not an evil. God sends them 
to us to exercise our patience and to teach us to have pity for 
others; He Himself having been pleased to endure them in 
order that we might have a pontiff, who knew how to compas 
sionate with our miseries, and encourage us, by his example, 
in the practice of this virtue. One of the most certain marks 
that God has great designs on a person is when He sends deso 
lation on desolation, and sorrow upon sorrow. The true time 
to discover the spiritual progress of a soul is the time of tempta 
tion and tribulation, because such as a person is in these trials, 
such, ordinarily, will he be afterwards. Tn a single day of 
temptations we can acquire more merit than in many days of 
peace." And he illustrated this doctrine by pointed compari. 
sons. "A captain." he said in one of his conferences of the 
year 1645, " first payed twentv francs a piece for his soldiers, 
and then he supplied them with army bread; but after that he 
placed them in the ranks where they had to undergo great 
fatigue, instead of nourishing them delicately and making 
cowards of them, and thus rendering them useless. Thus God 


gives sweetness in the beginning, but afterwards He sends the 
fatigues and torments of temptations and trials. When on sea 
the traveller remarks the dolphins follow each other in regular 
order and divert themselves in the water, and notices the flocks 
of little birds clinging to the masts, he is delighted and amused, 
but when the water, the bread and provisions give out, then 
there is only anxiety and terror. The water in a pond being 
always at rest becomes stagnant, muddy, and offensive; on the 
contrary, rivers and springs, which flow with rapidity among 
stones and rocks, have beautiful and sweet waters. Now, who 
would not prefer to be a river at this price than a stagnant 
pool ?" 

He wrote (March 9th , 1657): "The difliculties you experi 
ence in your management are not proof that it is not good. On 
the contrary, our Lord wishes to show that it is. since He puts 
it to the test. It is not surprising that a good vessel is safe in 
calm weather, since even a bad one could not then sink; but 
its quality is determined when it, exposed, weathers the tem 
pest. You would be very happy had you nothing to suffer in 
your position; but } r ou will be still more so. if, for the love of 
Our Lord, -you. remain firm in the midst of the agitations which 
He sends. I have befoie counseled patience, and I awain 
renew the recommendation. 

He said to the Daughters of Charity in a still more vivid 
manner: "See the sculptor who wishes to carve a beautiful 

"""figure out of a rough and ugly looking stone He takes his ham 
mer and gives such heavy strokes that,looking at him. one would 
imagine that he was going to break it into pieces. Then, when 
he has cut away the roughest part, he uses a smaller hammer, 
and after that he begins with the chisel to fashion the figure in 
its diifercnt parts. When it is rough formed he takes more 
delicate tools to bring it to that state of perfection which he 
intends. This is how God docs. See the poor Daughter of 
Charity and the poor Missionary: when God withdraws them 
from the corrupted mass of the world they are still carnal and 
unpolished; they are unwrought stones. G.od, however, wishes 
.to in :ike of them beautiful images, and for this purpose He goes 

/to work and applies heavy strokes of the hammer. And how 
does He do. it? In making them sutler, now heat, again cold,. 


and then the hardships of visiting the sick in the country, 
where, in winter time, the wind is biting sharp. and where they 
should go in bad as well as in fine weather. Well, these are 
the heavy strokes of the hammer that God gives a poor 
Daughter of Charity; and whoever would consider merely the 
surface would say that that Daughter is to be pitied. But if we 
cast our eyes on the designs of God we will see that all these 
blows are only for the purpose of fashioning that beautiful soul. 
And when, after having sent great afflictions as well of body 
as of mind, He perceives that what was the most coarse has 
been removed from the soul by the patience which it has prac 
tised, oh, then lie takes up the chisel to perfect it. He com 
mences to delineate the features; He adorns and embellishes it; 
He takes a delight in enriching it with His graces, and He does 
not rest until He has rendered it perfectly acceptable. 

In twenty different letters he returns to this subject, especial 
ly in regard to temptations; for example, in the following letter 
addressed, in 1624, to a missionary in Rome: " Such is the con 
duct of God in regard to those whom He destines for something 
great, or for something special in His service, that He, pre 
viously, exercises them in troublesome dislikes and repugnances 
and movements of inconstancy. At times. His object is to try 
them, again it is to let them feel their own weakness, at other 
times to detach them more from created objects, and occasion 
ally to dissipate the vapors ot self-complacency, and ever and 
always His object is to render them more agreeable in His 
eyes. Do not clonbt. provided you resist, that the temptations 
jou suffer will contribute to your advancement. There is not 
& man, be he ever so perfect or so steadfast in his vocation, 
that is not subject, at times, to like temptations. The enemy was 
ven so rash as to attempt to induce the Son of God to adore 
him, a temptation the most horrible his malice could have in 
vented. Was there any among the Apostles, or among the 
saints, who had no need to do violence to Himself in order to 
resist the attacks of the flesh and the world f Courage, then ; be 
firm! Can it be possible that a little repugnance will cause us to 
abandon all? God forbid, since the Apostle says that it is im 
possible for those, who were once enlightened and have become 
unworthy of the light, to return to the state whence they fell. 


For, though their intentions be good and their resolutions 
strong, still when it comes to the execution of these resolves, 
when the question is to overcome the difficulties grace fails 
them because they have failed grace. Their scruples wear and 
harass them, and the desire of calm and rest forces them to 
form their conscience which will easily accommodate itself to 
sensuality, and nature assumes the mastery," 

He wrote similarly to a young novice Sister, June 25th., 
1658: "I am not astonished at the repugnance you feel in your 
exercises of religion; on the contrary, I would be, did 3-011 not 
experience any. Sooner or later, God always tries the souls 
He calls to His service by similar fains, and it is preferable to 
undergo them in the beginning than later, or towards the end. 
Because thereby you early learn to know and humble yourself, 
to distrust yourself and to place all confidence^!! God; in a word, 
you lay in a fund of patience, of fortitude and of mortification, 
virtues of which you will have great need all } our life. 

" I have no doubt you would be glad to remain free as you 
are, but this content would come from nature, and would not 
last. We cannot serve two masters. If 3-011 wish to enjoy^ the 
liberty of the children of God you ir.ust follow Jesus Christ in 
the narrow path of subjection which conducts to salvation. For 
so great is human inconstancy, notwithstanding the dispositions 
you may have to do right in going by the broad way of liberty, 
you ma3* mistake, as ordinarily tlu\y do, who arc attached to 
God 01113- by silken cords. 

"Consider, for a moment. I pray you, the Son of God. AVho 
came into the world not only to s;ive us through His death, but 
also in order to submit to every will of His Father and to draw 
us to Him 1)3" the example of His life. He was still in the womb of 
His Mother when He was obliged to obey an edict of an emperor; 
He was born out of His own countiy, in a tempestuous season 
of the 3 - ear, and in extreme poverty. Shortly after His 1 irth. 
see how Herod persecutes Him. and how He has to fiy, how in 
His exile He suffers not only His own discomforts, but also, 
through compassion, those of the Blessed Virgin and^St. Joseph, 
who endure a great deal on His account. Having returned to 
Nazareth and grown up, He submits to His parents, and to the 


rules of a hidden life in order to serve us a. model to religious 
souls who, having embraced the like, ought to obey their 
superiors and the observances of their state. And without 
doubt, He had you in view then, in the eternal design He had 
of saving 3-011 by means of the absolute retreat you have begun. 
If you. in your turn, will look at this Divine Savior yon will see 
how He suffers without ceasing, how He prays, how He labors, 
and how He obeys. If you life according to the flesh, St. Paul 
says, -yw shall die. (Rom. viii., 13.) Hut to live according 
to the spirit that vivifies, you must live as our Lord has lived, 
you must renounce selt, must do rather the will of another than 
your own, make good use of contradictions, and esteem suffer 
ing preferable to self-satisfaction. He, speaking of His passion, 
asks of His disciples: Owjltt not Christ to have suffered these 
things? (Luke xxiv., 20.) This is to give us to under 
stand that as He entered into glory only through afflictions, we 
should not pretend to enter without suffering. There are dif 
ferent kinds of suffering. The Apostles and the first Christians 
suffered the persecution of tyrants and endured every species of 
hardship, and it is said that all those, who wish to follow Jesus 
Christ, will suffer temptation. If you revert to your past life 
you will find that you have not been exempt, and in whatever 
condition you may be, even were you married, and advanta 
geously, you would still find crosses and troubles. There ar;> 
few persons in the world that do not complain of their state, even 
though it seems happy. Truly, the best is that wherein we be 
come like our Lord, tempted, praying, working and suffering, and 
this is the path by which He leads those souls whom He wishes 
to raise to a high degree of perfection. You must not, then, 
be disheartened if you find no attraction for the practice of vir 
tue. Virtue is not virtue, save in as much as we do violence to 
ourselves to practise it. The life of man, according to Job, is a 
combat. We, then, must combat if we do not wish to be van 
quished. And, as the devil is a roaring lion going about seek 
ing to devour us, he will not fail to attack you in order to 
weaken you in your determination of being all to God, to 
discourage you in its prosecution and to completely dishearten 
you if possible, foreseeing that should you persevere he will be 
confounded. It is, therefore, necessary to resist him resolutely 


by prayer and by exactitude in the practices of the community, 
and, especially, by a filial and entirely singular confidence in 
God. His grace will not fail you; on the contrary, it will 
abound in you in proportion to your trials, and to your resolu 
tion, with its help, to overcome them. God never permits us to 
be tempted above our strength. 

"For all these reasons, it seems to me. you will do well to 
be resolute in your difficulties, The more you give our Lord, 
the greater graces will you receive. His yoke is sweet to those 
who willingly embrace it, and your burden will be light if you 
compare it with that of Jesus Christ, Who has so suffered for 
you, or if 3-011 consider the consolation and recompense He 
promises those who serve Him constantly, without regret, in 
the place and in the manner He desires, as I trust you 
will do." 

Speaking in a more general manner he said: " The wisdom 
of God has so well ordered everything that night succeeds day; 
sadness, joy; and contradiction, applause; and this He has done 
that our minds would rest only in Him, Who alone is above all 
change. We must all, without exception, be prepared to suffer 
in one way or another; otherwise, we will not be disciples of the 
Divine Master, Who has wished to be persecuted. Regard it 
as a blessing to be treated as He was, and endeavor to follow 
His example in the virtues He practised when maltreated." 

Or again: li Your pains, which are various and of long con. 
tinuance affect me sensibly. The} are a cross with outstretched 
arms, embracing both body and soul; but also a cross that ele 
vates you above earth, and this gives me consolation. You 
ought to be consoled in seeing 3-011 rself treated as our Lord was, 
and honored by the same marks whereby He proved His love 
for us. His sufferings were both interior and exterior, and the 
interior were, beyond comparison, far greater than the others. 
But why, think you, does He try you in this manner? For the 
same object He had in wishing Himself to surfer, namely, to 
purify 3 r ou of your sins and to clothe you with His virtue, in 
order that the name of His Father bejsanctified in 3*011. Remain 
in peace, then, and have perfect confidence in His goodness. 
Give DO heed to any contrary feelings; be slry of } T our own sen- 


timents, and believe rather what I say and the knowledge I 
have of you, than all that you yourself may think or feel. You 
have every motive to rejoice in God and to hope for everything 
from Him through our Lord, Who dwells in you; and after the 
recommendation He has given you to renounce yourself, I do 
not see anything that could give you cause for apprehension, 
not even sin, which is the only evil we should fear; because in 
the state of religion, which you have embraced, you do penance 
for the past, and in regard to the future your great horror for 
whatever may displease God is your safeguard." 

To one of his missionaries, who had suffered for justice sake, 
he wrote: " Is not your heart greatly comforted in seeing that 
you have been found worthy before God to suffer in His service? 
Certainly, 3-011 owe Him special thanks and are bound to ask of 
Him the grace to make good use of your trial." 

To an abbess, who complained of the contradictions she met 
with in endeavoring to reform her abbey, he said: "The suf 
ferings undergone in the establishment of a good work draw 
down the graces necessary to succeed." 

To missionaries prevented in the work of their mission by 
some popular outbreak against them: "Blessed be God for 
the difficulties He is pleased to have you encounter! You must, 
on this occasion, honor the contradictions the Son of God ex 
perienced when on earth. Oh, how much greater they were, 
since through aversion for Him and His doctrine thev forbade 


Him entrance to certain places and, at last, deprived Him of 
life! It was for occasions just like these that He prepared His 
disciples when He told them they would be ridiculed, affronted 
and maltreated, that fathers would take &ides against their 
children and children would persecute their fathers. Let us 
derive our profit from them, and bear with patience, as did the 
holy Apostles, the contradictions we may meet with in the service 
of God. Or rather, when we experience them, let us rejoice as in 
a great good, and let us begin with the present occasion to 
make that use of them which the Apostles, after the example of 
their Head, made of theirs. If we conduct ourselves in this 
manner, you may rest assured that the very means by which 
the devil wished to thwart you will turn to his own discomfiture; 


that you will give joy to Heaven and to all good souls who may 
witness or may hear of your action; that, in fine, even those, 
who now oppose, will at last bless you and recognize you as co- 
operators in their salvation. But what! This kind of demon is 
not cast out but by jpraj/er and patience. The holy modesty 
and interior recollection which are practised in the congrega 
tion will also be of service to you; and, again, it will be well to 
inform yourself of the ctiiibes that led to the aversion which 
this people exhibits towards the missionaries in order to avoid 
whatever ma} have given any occasion, and even, if judged 
expedient, to do the contrary." 

Writing to one who complained of one of his confreres, he 
said: "You must not look upon his action as coming from 
himself, but rather as a trial wherein God wished to test your 
patience; and this virtue will be all the more real virtue in you 
fls you are more alive to resentment, and as you have given 
less cause for the injury you received. Prove, then, that you 
are a true child of Jesns Christ and that it is not in vain you 
have so often meditated on His sufferings; but that you have 
learned to overcome } ourself by bearing patiently the things 
that wound your heart the more." 

"In a word, sir," he said to another by way of conclusion, 
" we must go to God through infamy and good name; and His 
Divine Goodness shows ns a mercy when He is pleased to per 
mit us to fall into reproach and public contempt. I have no 
doubt yon have received in patience the confusion arising from 
what has happened. If the glory of the world be but smoke, 
the contrary is indeed solid when received in the proper spirit; 
iind I hope you will derive great profit from this humiliation. 
Ma} T God grant it. and may He deign to send us many more of 
them that thereby we may merit to become all the more agreea 
ble to Him." 

The advantage, the happiness of suffering was one of His 
favorite doctrines. -Ah! sir," he wrote to one of his priests in 
trouble, "would yon desire to be without suffering? Would it not 
be preferable to have a devil in the body than to be without a 
cross? Yes. for in that case the devil could not hurt the soul; 
but having nothing to suffer, neither soul nor body would be 
conformed to Jesus suffering; and yet this conformity is the 


mark of our predestination. Therefore, be not astonished at 
your pains, since the Son of God has chosen suffering for our 

Under this admirable conviction, he, at times, complained as 
have done so many saints, that God did not try his congrega 
tion b}* afflictions. "I have," he said one da}-, "for some time 
back, and indeed very often,, dwelt on the thought that the 
congregation does not suffer anything, that everything smiles 
on it in success, and that it is in a certain prosperity; let us 
say rather that God blesses it in every way without its experi 
encing either obstacle or annoyance. I commenced to have a 
doubt of that inactive tranquility, knowing that God proves 
those who serve Him and chastises those whom He loves. 
Whom Gcd loveth He cJiastiseth (Heb. xii-G.) 1 recalled to 
mind what is related of St. Ambrose, how, when once traveling 
he came to a house where the master, he learned, did not know 
what sorrow was. And thereupon, enlightened from above, he 
judged that a house so gently dealt with was near its destruc 
tion, and said: "Come let us leave this place, for the wrath of 
God is about to fall on this house." And, in reality, he had no 
sooner departed than the lightning of heaven struck it and. en 
veloped in ruin all who were within. Again, I saw many orders 
troubled from time to time, and particularly one of the greatest 
and most holy in the church, which is, at times, in consterna 
tion, and is even now undergoing a terrible persecution; and I 
said to myself: See how God acts towards the saints and how 
He would treat us were we strong in virtue. But, knowing our 
feebleness, He nurses us and feeds us on milk just like little 
children, and gives us success almost without our lifting a finger 
in co-operation. I had, therefore, reason from these considera 
tions, reason to fear, that we were not acceptable to God, nor 
worthy to suffer anything for His love since He turns aside from 
us all afflictions and all those tests which prove His servants. 
True, we have met with some disasters at sea in our .embarka 
tion for Madagascar, but here again God has come to our 
relief; and in the year 1049 the soldiers occasioned lisa loss of 
altogether fort3 -two thousand franc.s: but we alone did not 
suffer; every one felt the effects of the public troubles; the evil 
was common, and we were not treated otherwise than others. 


But, blessed be God, my brethren, because now it has pleased 
His Adorable Providence to deprive us of the piece of property 
just taken from us ! The loss is considerable for the community; 
yes, very considerable. Let us enter into the sentiments of 
Job when he said : TJie Lord gave these goods, and the Lord hath 
taken them away: blessed be the name of the LordT (Job 1-21.) 
Do not consider this deprivation as coining from a human judg 
ment; but let us say it is God Who has judged us, and let us 
humble ourselves under the hand that strikes, as David who 
has said: " / icas dum\ and 1 opened not my mouth, because 
thou hast done it." (Ps. xxxviii-10.) Let us adore His justice. and 
regard it as a mercy that He treats us in this manner. He does 
it all for our good. He did *tt things well, St. Mark relates." 

He taught, moreover, (June, 1659) how to make a good use 
of calumnies, persecutions and other trials: -They are never 
wanting, 1 he said, " to those who are faithful to God. They 
are graces that God lavishes on those who serve Him with 
fidelity. Without a doubt, He is not the author of them, He 
only permits them; but. in as much as they are tests and exer 
cises for our patience and meekness, they are His work. He 
wishes thereby to wean His servants from all that might im 
pede their going 1o Him. Therefore, whenever it pleases His 
Divine Goodness to send us these opportunities for suffering, 
let us elevate our hearts to Heaven, let us adore and praise His 
holy and ever adorable conduct; let us receive them with joy, 
as favors shown us, and say in the fullness of our hearts: 
Welcome, dear persecutions ! Welcome, dear calumnies, dear 
crosses sent from Heaven! I propose to profit by this visit you 
make me on the part of God! Poor nature will suffer, it will 
grumble. No matter, we must suffer, and suffer with joy what 
God wishes us to suffer. Oh ! had we but a lively faith, did we 
look upon these things with a Christian eye, did we regard 
them not as oppositions coming from men but as graces on 
the part of God, and did it but please His goodness to disperse 
from our minds the clouds of the maxims of the world, which 
hinder faith from penetrating to the depths of our hearts 
with those of the Gospel, we would, indeed, have far different 
views and other ideas; and when question of suffering injury 
und persecution arose, we would esteem and look upon them 


as a great blessing and a happy condition. Yes, to be calumni 
ated and persecuted is, indeed, a happy state. 

"What! to be maligned and suffer persecution a hnppy state? 
Yes, for it is Jesus Christ Who lias said: Blessed are they who 
suffer persecution for justice 1 sake. (Matt. v. 10.) Remark the 
words: For justice" sake. For. when we give cause to speak 
and act against us, we must humble ourselves under tbe aveng 
ing hand of God, Who leaves nothing go unpunished, and Who, 
sooner or later, chastises the transgressors of His law. In this 
case the contradictions we suffer at the hands of men come from 
God irritated against us; they are the effects of His justice, and 
men are but the ministers. But, when calumny falls on those 
who serve God faithful!} , it is a great happiness, since it is a 
means to sanctify them more and more. 

"When a physician prescribes a remedy in order to drive 
away the unhealthy humors of the bod} , we call it a purgation; 
and when the gardener lops off the useless branches of a fruit 
tree it is also called a pruning; but with this difference: the doc 
tor purges to take away the evil or its cause, while the gardener 
prunes the tree and cuts away live branches that it may bear 
more fruit and less wood. So with us; if God sends us persecu 
tions when our behavior is not such as it ought to be, then the 
persecution is a purgation. But if we suffer from men without 
having given them reason, then it is the gardener who lops off 
the quick branches in order to have the tree bear more fruit 
than leaves. Such a person has attained to two degrees of vir 
tue; God wishes to advance him to four; he has reached four 
and the Lord wishes him to have six; for this purpose He em 
ploys the rod of calumny and persecution. It is, then, a very 
happy state; it is one of the evangelical beatitudes; it is a 
Christian beatitude, a happiness begun here below and com 
pleted in Heaven: Blessed . . . for theirs is tlie Kingdom of 
Heaven f 

"Wretches, indeed, on the contrary, are those who do not 
suffer persecution ! Let us. then, await with firmness the oc 
casions for suffering that it shall please God to send us, and en 
dure them in the spirit of Jesus Christ. 

"The means to derive profit from affliction are: First, to 
prepare ourselves for them by a faithful use of the little daily 


occasions that arise, and make them serve us in our apprentice 
ship. For, if we behave cowardly in such trifling annoyances, how 
can we expect to patiently endure great sufferings? If wecannot 
endure a rough word, a cross look, how can we receive unmoved, 
much less with joy, calumnies, affronts, and humiliations? Sec 
ond, on the very instant to close our lips, so that no word of ill 
will, of irritation against those who calumniate and persecute may 
escape. / ivas dumb, and I did not open my month." Is it not 
just that we maintain silence, since it is God Who speaks to us 
and sends us these visitations? Is it not reasonable that we ac 
cept this cross with submission since such is His good pleasure? 
Ought we not even thank and praise Him for persecutions, seeing 
that He permits them for our sanctification? Third, we are to 
defend ourselves neither by speech nor by writing. We should 
not fear to lose the esteem of the world. True esteem is but 
the gleam from a good life; its source, its foundation, is virtue, 
which can be taken from us neither by slander nor by persecu 
tion, provided we make a good use of them and retrain faithful 
to God. Calumny can, indeed, eclipse the lustre of our virtue 
for a time; but virtue remains all the same, and will recover its 
brilliancy when it shall please God to dissipate the clouds that 
conceal it from the eyes of men." 



Patience in sickness! Another exercise of almost the entire 
length of the long life of our Saint, but particularly of the last 
fifteen years. Already, in 1645, his life was hanging by a thread. 
Old diseases, and ever new afflictions, the weight of labors that 
had neither rest nor respite, the martyrdom of the Council of 
Conscience, all these exhausted nature, which was soon reduced 
to extremity. But faith and charity retained all their vigor. To 
keep these alive, he daily received his God, and, even in delirium, 
he still found their accents and their ardor. He was found in 
this condition, one day, by Father St. Jure, who, like so many 
worthy people, had, on the news of his sickness, hastened to 
visit him. To the question which the father asked him, of the 
thoughts that flitted through his ravings, the aged man, wiihout 
however recognizing him, seemed to answer: In a contrite and 
humble heart, kt us be accepted, Lord!" (Dan. iii. y9 ) the 
cry of humility, the echo of his entire life, rather than an answer 
to a question he likely had not heard. 

Snatched from death on this occasion by the devotedness of 
one of his children, he, however, retained a painful weakness. 
Henceforth, his infirmities, which in reality began at the time of 
his residence in the house of Gondi, or, rather, at the time of 
his captivity in Tunis, were continual. He had ever been very 
sensitive to the weather, and subject to a light lever, which some 
times continued for three or four days, and, at other times, even 
fifteen or more. During these attacks he would do nothing for 
relief, ripr would he interrupt either his labors or his exercises. 


" It is nothing, " he would say; "it is only my little fever." 
The only remedy he had recourse to, and a remedy far more 
painful than the evil itself, consisted in forced sweats, lasting 
for successive days, particularly in summer, which made his 
short nights a kind of martyrdom. During the greatest heats, 
when even the linen of the bed is a burden, he would cover him 
self with three blankets and place at his sides two large vessels 
of boiling water. He thus passed the night with neither rest 
nor sleep, and in a suffocating heat. In the morning, always at 
the stroke of four, he arose from his bed as from a bath. Bed 
and bedding, all was steeped and steaming. lie dried himself 
alone, never accepting the assistance of anyone, and went to 

AVhat could days succeeding such nights be ? Enervation and 
drowsiness overcame him amid his occupations and visits. In 
stead of yielding to sleep, he arose from his chair and remained 
standing, or assumed some painful position; and when sleep did 
conquer, he begged pardon for what he termed his misery, in 
stead of alleging in excuse sickness and the necessity of na 

To his habitual little fever was added a quartan fever that 
seized him once or twice every j-ear. He treated it no better 
than the other, and it was precisely during this time that he ren 
dered the greatest services to God and the poor. 

He was already an octogenarian when the evil became greater 
than his courage. He had long suffered from erysipelas, and 
this was followed b}* a continuous fever for some days, which 
terminated in a severe inflammation of one of his legs. Then, 
notwithstanding his will, he was forced to keep his bed for some 
tirr.e, and his room for two months. For the first time they 
succeeded in inducing him to take a room where there was fire. 
He could no longer resist, for his weakness was such that he 
had to be carried from the bed to the fire, and back again, just 
as a child. 

The Lent of the following A-ear, 1657, was marked by an uni 
versal loathing which prevented him from taking scarcely any 
nourishment. In 1658, he suffered from his eyes and for a long 
time did not wish to apply any remedy. The physician had 


prescribed an application of the warm blood of a pigeon; but 
when the brother brought the pigeon and was about to kill it, St. 
Vincent cried cut: "No, no, I will never consent! That inno 
cent bird represents to me ray Savior, and God will readily 
find another means of curing me." 

Besides, indifferent to life and death, to health and sickness, 
he was the same in regard to remedies. When a medicine was 
prescribed and he suspected it to bo unpleasant, ho took it and 
seemed content with the evil effect as if it had been an entire 

Towaids the end of the same year, as he was returning from 
the city in company with one of his priests, the braces of the 
carriage breaking, he was thrown out and his head dashed 
against the pavement. He received a severe wound and a re 
newal of his fever, and there was increasing danger of his 

All these ills, borne with fortitude so sweet and so quiet, are 
as nothing in comparison with what he had to endure, especially 
from 1657, on account of the swelling and ulceration of his 
legs. It was forty-five years before, as we already know, that 
is during his captivity in Tunis, that he experienced the first 
S3*mptoms. In this long space of time he had moments of such 
painful weakness and such agony from this inflammation that he 
could neither walk nor support himself, and was obliged to re 
main abed. This is the reason that, from 163. , the year of his 
taking possession of St. Lazarus, so removed from the centre 
of Paris and from business, he was necessitated to travel on horse 
back to the different scenes of his charity, and. in 1649, after 
his long journey into Brittany and Poitou, lie was forced to 
abandon the horse for the famous carriage which he called his 

After this the evil made alarming progress. In 1(550 it 
reached both knees. The Saint could no longer bend 
them but with extreme difficult} , nor rise up again without ter 
rible pain, nor walk save with the aid of a crutch. Finally, the 
swelling broke in his right leg near the ankle; t\vo years after, 
the humors collected there anew and the pain in the knees con 
tinually increasing, it was impossible for him, from the begin- 


ning of 1659, to leave the house. He. nevertheless, contrived 
for some time to descend to the church for prayer and mass, 
Und to the conference hall, to preside at the meetings of his 
community, or of the Tuesday conferences, or of the Ladies of 
Charity, who preferred to go to that extremity of Paris than 
rtiss the happiness of seeing and hearing him. 

Soon, unable longer to either ascend or descend the steps of 

"the sacristy, he was obliged, in order to celebrate holy muss, to 

vest and unvest at the altar. " See how I am become a great 

lord," he would say smiling, alluding to the privilege, belonging 

to bishops alone, of vesting at the altar. 

Towards the close of 1651), he was deprived of tiie consolation 
of celebrating mass in the presence cf the people, and ho could 
"say mass only in the chapel of the infirmary; some months after, 
his limbs no longer bearing him, he saw himself reduced to the 
necessity of simply hearing it, which he did every day up to his 
death, but at the price of what sufferings ! To go from his room 
to the chapel he had to drag himself along on crutches, and 
- this movement reopened his wounds and aggravated all his 
4>au:. Nothing could be read on a countenance always serene; 
but the sight alone of his painful tottering walk carried the 
.counter-stroke of his suffering to the hearts of all. 

Moreover, they feared a fall at any instant, which, in his con 
dition, might prove fatal. They, however, conjured him. in the 
middle of July, 1600. to consent to have the room adjoining his 
fitted up as a chapel so that he might be able to hear mass with 
out leaving his own. No, no," he said, domestic chapels 
should not be allowed except in case of great necessity, and I do 
not thank that mine is such a case." Consent, at least." they 
said to him. < to have a chair to carry you from your room to 
the chapel of the infirmary; a thing that will cost but little, is 
contrary to no rule, and will preserve you from r.ll danger and 
will spare your children extreme anxiety ." This proposition, 
.too. failed in the presence of his humility and his love for suf 
fering. Finally, on the day of the Assumption of the IHessed 
."Virgin Mary, six weeks only before his death, unable even to 
drag himself on his crutches, he permitted two of the brothers 
to curry him, but it was to his great confusion, and only to the 
chapel, about thirty or forty steps from his room. 


What a martyrdom ! And to all this supervened a disorder of 
the kidnc3 s, an infirmity no less painful to him, than incon 
venient and humiliating. Not wishing to accept any aid, he 
would grasp a cord pendent from the ceiling of his room, and 
in the most frightful pains he was beard to utter this cry only: 
Ah, my Savior! My good Savior!" At the same time he 
would cast his eyes on a small wooden crucifix, still preserved 
among his relics, which he had placed before him, to inspire 
himself by this sight with fortitude and consolation. 

His nights were even more cruel than his days. Even then, 


he would have no other couch than the hard straw whereon he 
passed five or six hours less in rest than in new torments. 
During the day his sores llowod in such abundance that the 
floor was stained, yet this was in itself some relief; but, at 
night, the humors and serosities, hardened by the heat of the 
bed, coagulated in the joints of the knees and occasioned terri 
ble torture. He himself acknowledged it. first in a letter, and 
afterwards to one of his priest*. I have concealed my condition 
from you as much I could," he wrote to a person in his intimate 
confidence, "for I did not wish you to know of my illness, lett 
it might sadden you. But, O my God! how long will we be so 
tender that we dare not tell of our happiness in being visited by 
Thee? May it please Our Lord, to make us stronger and cause us 
to find our happiness in His good pleasure!" And one of hi* 
missionaries having said to him: It seems to n:e that yo ii 
pains increase from day to day, he replied: " It is true, that 
I feel them augment from the sole of the foot to the top of the 
head. But, alas! what an account I will have to give at the 
tribunal of God, before which I have very soon to appear, if I 
do not make good use of them! 

But he did not wish to be pitied, more particularly if the ex 
pression of pity seemed a murmur against Providence. The 
missionary above mentioned having entered his loom one day 
as they were dressing his sores, and perceiving that he was- 
suffering very much, said: " Oh, sir, how grievous are your 
pains!" "What!" interrupted the holy old man, < do you call 
grievous the work of God, and what He ordains in inflicting, 
suffering on a miserable sinner like me? God forgive you, sir. 


for what you have just said, for the language of Jesus Christ 
does not admit of such speech! Is it not just that the guilty 
suffer, and do we not belong more to God than to ourselves?" 
Meanwhile, he grew weaker and wasted away day alter day, 
yet continuing the same vigorous treatment with himself and 
ingeniously turning aside in his greatest distress all the solace 
and comfort they wished to proem c him. Madam d Aiguillon 
and other Ladies of Charity, horrified at his changed appearance 
and his ever-increasing weakness, and informed of the objection 
he made to the strengthening meats offered him, came to an 
understanding with the physician to draw up a dai!y regimen in 
which were included broth and fowl; then they presented this 
plan of diet to him for his signature in order to oblige him to 
follow it in every point. He signed it through a motive of 
chanty, and resolved to keep his word. But, after the first or 
second day, his stomach, unused for so long a time to such deli 
cate nutriment, could not bear it, and he begged, in pit\ , the 
Ladies and his brethren to permit him to live after his own 
fashion. They were obliged to allow him to return to the com 
munity fare. 

His mind, always free raid clear, his soul, ever stiong and 
active in a wasted body, continued to direct his Congregation 
and its works. In his arm chair where pain tied him down, 
he was present and presided over all. There, he received visits 
of every description from within and without, and was ever 
smiling, alwa}-s calm, ever meek and affable in tone of voice, 
in words and manner. If asked concerning his sickness, he 
would answer: "It is nothing" or "What is it all in com 
parison with the sufferings of Our Lord, or with the pains of 
hell which I have merited," and then he would adroitly change 
the subject and from his own troubles which he desired forgotten, 
would turn to those of his visitors to compassionate with them 
and offer consolation. And, notwithstanding his difficulties in 
speaking, he would protract the conversation and continue to 
talk for more than half an hour with as much grace, vigor, and 
unction as in his better days. 

It is unnecessary to add that, amid these occupations so 
burdensome for a dying old man, his exercises of piety followed 
in their usual course. He even multiplied them in his last da}-s 


as a more immediate preparation for death. And yet many a 
long year before he had begun to prepare himself for his final 
passage, not only by his wonderful labors, but also by special 
acts. Ever} r day after mass he recited the prayers of the dyinji ; 
and at night he placed himself in condition to answer, that very 
night itself, were it necessary, the call of God. 

All these practices were known only by chance, or rather through 
a special permission of Providence. A little before the death of 
Vincent one of his priests wrote to a confrere concerning his bad 
state and the fears of the congregation, and without thinking. 
went according to the usage to hand Vincent the letter to read. 
The venerated superior did read it. At the words in the 
letter: " Mr. Vincent is wasting visibly, there is every appear 
ance that we will soon lose him." he became agitated and 
ceased reading. Far from manifesting displeasure at the im 
prudence of the missionary, he said to himself: " It is a salutary 
counsel this good priest has wished to give me and a warning 
to hold myself in readiness." A moment after, he, in his 
humility, troubled, asked: "May I not have had the misfortune 
of giving this priest some cause of pain and scandal?" He 
immediately sent for him. "Sir," he said to him, "I very 
humbly thank 3 ou for the good advice you have given me. I 
assure you, you have done me a kindness; and I beg you to 
complete your charity by informing me of any other faults you 
may have noticed in me." "Oh, sir," answered the poor mis 
sionary, disconcerted and confused, "I assure you, in my turn, 
that I have not thought of either directly or indirectly 
giving you a lesson, and I have failed only through inadvert 
ence. Do not annoy yourself, and let your mind be at rest. 
replied the Saint, "I would only have loved and honored you 
the more. And in regard to the admonition I thought you 
wished to give, I will tell you in all simplicity that God has 
given me the grace to avoid its necessity; I Icll you this, in 

o O * 

order that you may not be scandalized in seeing me make no 
extraordinary preparations. For eighteen years I have never 
gone to bed without having previously disposed myself to die 
that very night." 

It was for a still longer time even that the Saint lived in 


this thought and in this practice, for the following little note, 
written with his own hand, twenty-live years before, was found: 
I was taken dangerously ill two or three days ago. and that 
made me think seriously of death. Through the mercy of God 
I adore His "Will. I acquiesce in it with all my heart; and ex 
amining myself on what could give me any regret, I have dis 
covered nothing unless it be that we have not as yet finished 
our rules." 

This faithful servant had, then, for long, as lie of the Gospel* 

his loins girt and his lamp lighted ready to go meet His master 

and open for Him, as soon as He knocked at the door. This 

supreme rr.omcnt was constant!} before his e3 es, and he ever 

recalled it to i he minds of his children, "One of these days," 

lie repeated to them, the miserable body of this old sinner 

will be placed in the earth. It, will crumble to dust and you 

will tram pie it under foot." And when he was asked his age, 

he would answer: ;> For many years I have been abusing the 

*rrace of God. Woe is w? that my sojourning is prolonged! 

l-.s cxxix.. o,). Alas! O Lord, I have lived too long, because 

-there is no improvement in my life, and because my sins 

.-multi pi v with my years. Whenever he announced the death 

of a missionary, he added: "Thou neglectest me, O my God 

and ca icst to Thyself Thy servants. I am the tare that spoils 

Ihe ;good grain which Thou gatherest, and see. I always usc- 

ilossly occupy the earth. Why do T take up the earth? (Luke 

vjji.. 7) Hut yet. my God. let Thy Will be done and not 


Meanwhile habitual and iivreasing weakness, and sleepless 
nio-hts bro nwht on a heaviness against which he could no longer 


tru<rcle. He saw in it the image and precursor of approach 
ing death. " It is the brother." he smilingly said, " that comes 
to await his sister." A few diiys after, the sister, Death, did 
come in effect, and the holy old man received her with the same 
gentleness and the same patience that he had received all the 
sickness she had sent in advance of herself. 

He took occasion from his own condition to lend others to 
the thought of death, a thought most salutary, provided it be 
animated with confidence in the goodness of God. He wrote to 


a person who had a too vivid and exclusive apprehension of 
death: The thought of death is good, and Our Lord has coun 
selled and recommended it ; but it ought to be moderated. It 
is not expedient for 3 T ou to have it constantly present to your 
mind. It suffices if you reflect on it two or three times a day, 
without, however, delaying very long ; and, even should yon 
find yourself distui bed, not to delay on it at all, but gently put 
it aside." 


The example of his own ills served him as a means to encour 
age the sick, especially if the\- were young. Do not fear, my 
brother," he would say , ! had the same disease when young, and 
I recovered; I have had asthma, and now I have it no more; I 
have had rupture, and God cured me; I had neuralgia in the 
head, and it has disappeared; I had oppressions of tne chest 
and weakness of the stomach, and all I have outlived Have pa 
tience for a time; there is ever}- reason to hope that your sickness 
will pass awa} r and that God still wishes to make use of you. Let 
Him act, and do yon peacefully and tranquilly resign yourself. " 

He also spoke of his own maladies in letters and in confer 
ences, in order to exhort his disciples to patience in their illness. 
"It is true," he wrote, "that sickness, more clearly than health, 
shows us better what we are, and that, in suffering, impatience 
and melancholy attack the most resolute. But as they only hurt 
the weakest, you have derived rather an advantage than an in 
jury from them, because Our Lord has strengthened you in the 
practice of abandoning yourself to Ills good pleasure. This 
strength appears in the resolution 3 ou have taken to combat 
them with courage. And I trust it will appear still more in the 
victories you will gain by enduring your pains henceforth for the 
glory of God, not only with patience, but also with joy and 

He said to his community : We must admit that the stale 
of sickness is a troublesome state, and one almost insupportable 
to nature; and yet it is one of the most powerful means that 
God employs to bring us back to our duty, to remove us from 
sin, and to shower down upon us His gifts and graces. O, my 


Savior ! Thou Who hast suffered so much and Who hast died 
to redeem us, and to. show us how greatly uffliction may glorify 
God and promote our own aanctification. do Thou grant us, if 
it please Thee, to know the immense good and the great treas 
ure that are hidden in sickness ! It is, gentlemen, by it that 
our souls are purified, and it proves a most efficacious means to 
acquire the virtue we do not possess. There is no more suita 
ble condition for the practice of all virtues. In sickness faithis 
wonderfully exercised, hope acquires new lustre; resignation, 
love of God. and all virtues find abundant opportunities for 
manifesting themselves. It is there we learn what is in us we 
know what we are; it is the gauge wherewith to sound and 
know unerringly the virtue of each, whether he has much or lit 
tle, or none at all. You can never see what the man is better 
than wtiilst he is in sickness. That is the surest test whereby 
to recognize the ir.ost virtuous, or those who are less so. And 
this proves how impoitant it is that we thoroughly know how to 
properly conduct ourselves in sickness. Oh. if We knew how to 
act like a certain servant of God, who of his sick bed made a 
throne of merit an 1 grace! lie surrounded himself with the 
tnysteries of our holy religion; to the canop} of his bed he at 
tached an image of the most Holy Tiinity ; at the head he placed 
one of the Incarnation; onone side, the Circumcision; on anoth" 
C", the blessed Sr.cramcnt; at the foot, tho Crucifixion, so that 
no matter how he turned, to the right or to the left, or in what 
<!irection he cast his eyes, whether above or below, he always 
found himself environed by these divine mysteries, and, as it 
were, encompassed by and full of the presence of God. Oh. what 
H beautiful thought, gentlemen, what a beautiful thought! How 
happy we would be were God to give us a like grace! We ought 
to praise God because through His mercy and grace we have in 
the Congregation sick and infirm persons who manifest in their 
indispositions and their sickness, as on a stage, patience and 
all other virtues in their brightest lustre. We will thank God 
for having given us such members. I have often said, and I can 
not refrain from repeating, that we ought to consider those who 
are sick as a blessing to the Congregation. 

"Let us regard ill health and afflictions as coming from God. 
Death, life, health, disease, all come by tie order of His Provl- 


dcnce; and be the manner what it may, it is always for the ben 
efit and salvation of man. 

Yet, there are those who, very frequently, bear their suffer 
ings with impatience. This is a serious fault. Others permit 
themselves to be mastered by the desire for change of place; 
they wish to go here, to go there, to this house, to that prov 
ince, to their own country, under pretext that the climate there 
is better. And what docs this indicate? It shows that they are 
men attached to themselves, childish spirits, persons who wish 
to suffer nothing, just as if bodily ailments wore evils that must 
be avoided, To fly the condition wherein it has pleased God 
to place us is to fly our own happiness. Yes, suffering is a state 
of happiness, and it sanctifies the soul. 

I have seen a man, named Brother Anthony, who knew 
neither how to read nor write. We have his portrait in our 
hall. He possessed the spirit of God in abundance. He called 
every one his brother, or, if a female, sister; and when he 
spoke to the queen he called even her his si-ster. Every one 
wished to see him. He was asked one day: What do you 
do when sickness comes upon you? I low do you act when 
sick? I receive them, he said, as trials sent by God For 
cxamnle, when a fever comes I s:ty to it,: ah. now, my sister 
malady, or my sister fever, you come on the part of God, be. 
therefore, welcome; then I suffer God to do His will in me. 
BeholJ, gentlemen and my brothers, how he acted. It i.s thus 
the servants of Jesus Christ, those lovers of the cross, are ac 
customed to do. Put they do not neglect to employ the reme 
dies prescribed for their relief and for the cure of each disease, 
and in thi?, too, the} honor God Who has created the plants; 
and given them healing properties. But to have such tender 
ness for oneself, to be so exceedingly delicate in our least in 
disposition, O, my Savior! this is what we must reject; yes. we 
must renounce this tenderness in regard to ourselves." 

And coming back, as usual, to himself, he cried out in finish 
ing: "Oh, wretch that I am! What a poor use I have made of 
the sickness and the little inconveniences it has pleased God to 
send me! Of how many acts of impatience have I not been 
guilt} ! Oli, miserable that I am, what scandal 1 ave I not 


given those who have seen me behave in that manner! Help 
me, my brethren, to ask forgiveness of God for the past, and 
grace to make a better use, in the future, of whatever His 
Divine Majesty will please to send me in my great age, and 
during the little time that remains to me of life. " 




If we study St. Vincent de Paul in his conduct in general, we 
will sec united as in one single picture all those virtues we have 
successively admired. Moreover, it will afford the opportunity 
of gathering together certain teachings of the Saint that could 
not be classified under any of the preceding titles. 

The sole end of his conduct was the greater glory of God and 
the accomplishment of His will on earth as in Heaven; the way 
followed to attain this was He Who defined Himself as the Way, 
the Truth and the Life, Our Lord Jesus Christ, taken as light in 
His doctrine and as guide in His examples. 

Like Jesus Christ, Vincent began by sanctifying himself; 
then his own sanctification he made the instrument of the sane- 
t ideation of others. 

From this may be learned the basis of his conduct, a conduct 
that was always humble, ever doubtful of the most vivid person 
al lights, seeking always to be directed by the light of God. 
and even according to the counsels ot men. 

His was a conduct attentive and vigilant, arranging all. 
watching over all, and foreseeing all. And at the same time 
this conduct was prudent and circumspect in word and in deed, 
especially in the direction of others; never absolutely determin 
ing anything, but proposing simply thoughts and submitting 
them in some manner to the judgment of those who sought his 
counsel; never inspired by that spirit of sufficiency and pro 
sumption which decides without hesitation: "This is true, this 


is the right way, 1 but adopting in preference these more humble 
phrases: "This is my advice, this is what seems to me con 
formable to the onler of God;" except, however, where a 
maxim of the Gospel answered directly the question proposed, 
for there can be no hesitancy possible in the presence of a 
Divine oracle. 

His conduct was slow and willingly dilitory. save when 
necessity absolutely required an immediate answer or action: 
and even then, he still took time to quickly consult God. or 
seek for something analogous in the lessons or examples of 
Jesus Christ. 

Having need of a counsel at Tunis. Vincent cast his eyc.-s on 
Martin Husson a lawyer who practised before the superior 
court of Paris, who then, was living in retirement in Montmir- 
ail. lie wrote to him, but, with his usual prudence and reserve, 
confined himself in his letter to a simple enumeration of the 
reasons for and against, without adding a word that could in 
fluence his will. Much perplexed, Husson came to Paris, and 
left the decision in the hands of the holy priest. Vincent 
directed him to consult some wise and prudent persons, but 
Hnsson assured him he awaited his word as the expression of 
the will of God. Forced into his last intrenchments, Vincent had 
recourse to prayer, and on Easter Sunday, in the }-ear of 1653, 
he said to Ilusson: I have offered to our Lord, in the mass, 
your anxieties, your lamentations and your tears; and after the 
consecration I cast myself at His feet begging Him to enlighten 
me. Having done that, I considered attentive!} what, at the 
hour of mN r death, I would have wished to have counseled you 
to do. It seems to me, (hen, that if I were summoned at this 
verv instant I would be consoled in the thought of having told 
you to go to Tunis, on account of the good you can do there, 
and I would, on the contrary, extremely regret to have per 
suaded you not to go. This is my inmost thought. You ma}-, 
however, go, or not go as you choose." "God wishes it," ex 
claimed Husson moved by such disinterestedness, "and I 2:0." 
Vincent immediately procured his credentials from the king. 
.A few weeks afterwards, Husson departed for Tunis. 

We sec from this example that the Saint did not like himself to 


designate the subject to be seat to foreign missions. He ordi 
narily waited until a person had manifested, and had repeatedly 
shown a decided vocation for that sort of apostolate. He acted 
in this way notably in regard to Madagascar. 

His conduct was strong and firm in the maintenance of exacti 
tude and regularity, and at the same time full of suavity and gen 
tleness, in imitation of the conduct of God Himself, AVho, says 
the Wise Man: 1-cacheth frcm end to endmifjhtily, and endiirc lhuU 
thinys swedbj (Wisdom, viii-1). This conduct was consequent 
ly tempered with kind consideration, with humble excuses in re 
fusals to intemperate demands; by entreaty, or kindness of 
expression in commands; and, on this very account, more 
effective and more obeyed than the most imperious authority. 

Jt was not only in regard to foreign missions, but also in re 
lation to any difficult employment that Vincent previously de 
sired to know the dispositions of his subjects: " I write you," 
lie said to one of his priests, "to know the state of your health, 
and with what God will inspire you in relation to the proposition 
I am about to make you. We are called to N., to take charge 
of an establishment, and, having determined to send four or 
five missionaries, we have thought of you as their guide. Hence 
sir, it only remains that you raise your heart 1o God to listen 
to what lie will say to you on this subject, and I beg you to 
send me immediate information of the disposition of your body 
as well as of your soul in regard to this holy enterprise, an 1 
pi-ay Our Lord to grant us the grace to ever and in all places 
correspond with His holy will." 

He sometimes adopted a charming gaiety "Are you the 
man." he, one day. said to a priest, "to undertake a long voyage 
for the service of God?" "I am ready." rejoined the other. 
"But it is out of the kingdom. . .That s no difference." "But 
you must cross the sea ." "To go by sea or land is all the same 
to me." "But. indeed," added the saint, smiling, "the plac 
is twelve hundred quarter leagues distant!" "Were it two 
thousand 1 am willing to go." - Depart then, sir; you are 
wanted in Rome." 

Finally, his conduct was edifying and exemplary, always in 
imitation of Our Lord. Who commenced to do before He taught^ 


Hence the admirable care of the venerable old man to attend 
exactly all the exercises of the community, especially those the 
most painful for him. such as the morning meditation, and that 
after a cruel sleeplessness, when harassed with perplexities and 
with business, when sick and whilst undergoing treatment for 
the recovery of his health. 

Let us now consider this conduct applied to the spiritual as 
well as temporal interests of his communities. We will dwell 
awhile here on fraternal correction, which was one of his tri 
umphs, lie possessed the authority of example, which guarded 
him from the severe retort, "Physician heal thyself;" the 
patience that defers the bitter remedy and employs it only in 
the last extremity: the charity that applies it in a manner 
proper to heal the wound instead of irritating it or inflicting a 
fresh one; the humility which, by accusing itself the first, com 
mences by drinking the cup of shame and leaves to others but 
a few drops; the prudence, which measures the strokes in ac 
cordance with character, so as neither to discourage weakness, 
nor drive proud ardor to revolt; the meekness that sweetens 
correction, deceives and lulls nature to sleep; and with all this, 
the firmness that does not hesitate to put the axe to the root of 
the evil when the cure is r,t no other price. All these virtues 
conspired to give an incomparable charm to his manner of cor 
rection. Ordinarily, he delayed his reprehension, until nature 
had become calm both in himself and in others. He reflected 
on it before God and. like a skillful physician, lie studied both 
the moral temperament of the sick and the medicinal property 
of the remedy, in order to render the correction effective; and, 
when he saw a refractory subject, he made his meditation, for 
even three days in succession, on how he should act. 

The mom out arrived, he approacl ed his object by a profes 
sion of esteem for him whom he wished to reprehend. At one 
time he would praise i he qualities of the person, at another, 
find, at first, an excuse in the tirst movement of nature and of 
passion. Then, he would accuse himself, always taking upon 
himself the greatest share of the fault. - Oh," he would say. 
how you and I both need to labor to acquire humility, to ex 
crcisC ourselves in the practice of patience, to bear with others 
as we wish they would support us, to accustom ourselves to ex. 

MKTllOU OF DfltKCTlOKs 339 

actitude, and to regularity.* Sometimes he look the role of 
the accused before acting the judge. Once having remarked a 
young seminarist carrying to the church a. strange book, he 
called him aside and said: "Have you not remarked something 
in me that has scandalized you ?" Receiving an answer in the 
negative, he continued, "Well, mv dear brother, would you 


like me to tell you something that I have observed in you? 
And he sweetly informed him, adding: -May God bless you, 
my brother." 

When the individual was conciliated by all thes.e humble and 
charitable precautions, when he was in a disposition to iccog- 
nixe, with the Wise Man, that the wounds of a friend are prefer 
able to the deceptive caresses of an enemy, he went straight to 
the fault, and with firmness pointed out all the circumstances of 
time, of place, and of person; he rendered palpable its gravity 
and its consequences in regard to God, to the good of the 
neighbor, to the future of the congregation or of a special work. 
He.then, would not hesitate to add with severity: "If you sayyou 
have not remarked these defects in yourself it is a sign you have 
but little humility, for had you as much as Jesus Christ requires- 
of the Priest of the Mission, you would believe yourself the 
most imperfect of all and would readily acknowledge yourself 
guilty of all these things, and would attribute to some secret 
blindness the fact of your not perceiving what others see.all the- 
more so as you have already been admonished of them. And. 
in speaking of admonition, I have also been informed that you 
can scarcely bear to be reprehended. If that be the c-ase, O 
sir, how your state is to be feared, and how far removed you 
are from the saints, who loved to humble themselves before alii 
and rejoiced in having their slightest faults pointed out. It is, 
indeed, a poor imitation of the Saint of Saints, Jesus Christ, 
Who has permitted Himself to be reproached publicly with evil 
that He did not do, and yet uttered not a word to avoid the re- 
sultiu"- shame. Let us learn of Him, sir, to be meek and hum- 


ble of heart, These arc virtues which you and I should demand 
of Him without ceasing, and to which we should give special 
attention in order that we may not be carried away by the 
opposite passions which, with one. hand, throw down the spiritual 
edifice that the other builds. May it please this same Lord to 


enlighten us with Ihe light of His Holy Spirit so that we may 
see the darkness of our own, and submit it to those whom He 
has appointed to conduct us, and may we be animated with His 
infinite meekness which, inspiring our words and action?, will 
render us agreeable and useful to our neighbors. 

The correction finished, he reanimated fallen courage, renewed 
his protestations of esteem and affection, and as a final sedative, 
added words like the following: I experience the most in 
tense pain in .saying the least thing to wound you. In the 
name of God, bear with me;" or again. "I am unable, no, I 
cannot express the sorrow 1 feel in grieving you. I beg 3-011 to 
believe that were it not for the importance of the tiling I would 
a thousand times have preferred to bear all than to yive you the 
slightest pain/ Such tenderness was irresistible. Self love 
died almost without feeling its wound ; and this is what gave 
rise to the saying: Mr. Vincent is like the grand Turk, 
because he strangles self-love with a silken cord." 

Notwithstanding his absolute detachment from things of earth 
the Saint took the greatest care to preserve and manage with 
economy the temporalities of his congregation. As man, he 
knew that all are condemned to eat their bread in the sweat of 
their brow; as Christian, he knew that Providence, even in its 
designs the most generous, desires to be seconded 1) - us; as 
head of a family and general of a spiritual a 1-1113-, that it belongs 
to fathers to ptovide for their children and to captains to furnish 
arms and rations to their soldiers. 

Therefore, -he first sought to turn to best account the little 
pioperty that the congregation possessed. Not content with. 
appointing intelligent procurators, lie reserved to himself the 
general superintendence and the chief adm mistra ion, permit 
ting nothing to be done without his advice, designating in ad 
vance, often, every da}-, the specific dutv of each, and ic, pining 
an account. When he learned that his orders had been antici 
pated, exceeded, or violated, he deposed the unfaithful agent, 
even were he a particular superior; for he said: "Ifeveiyone 
were to do as he thinks fit the dependence established by God 
would be destroyed and theie would no lon<>er be but change 


and disorder in the houses." 


He appointed brothers to superintend the cultivation of the 
farms cf the congregation; and they had under them husband 
men and shepherds. He himself entered into the most minute 
details in regard to the crops and flocks, the kitchen garden and 
orchard, and as formerly Charlemagne did, he even attended to 
the accounts of the barn-yard of St. Lazarus. 

He was thrifty in the use of these revenues, augmented by 
such skillful management, by procuring his stores at the times 
and places the most favorable, recommending to allow nothing 
to go to waste, to use the most rigorous economy, ard, in bad 
years and during public disorders, even to retrench in the ordi 
nary expenditures. Charity alone knew no calculations; there 
in, though ever acting prudently, he displayed a holy prodig 
ality. But, for himself and his priests, in his houses, in 
clothing and at table, he confined himself 1o the strictly 
necessary and shunned every superfluity. This was why he was 
such an enemy to change, which necessitated costly journeys, 
when these changes had no other reason than the pretended 
nnwholcsomeness of fie climate, the difficulty of the occupation, 
or the incompatibility of disposition. 


For him. too, time was a rich capital of which he was severely 
economical. That he might consecrate it entirely to bis pious 
undertakings, he never gave a moment to idleness. Moreover, 
he augmented it by adding the two hours recreation he permit 
ted his community, but which he himself refused, and each 
night by two or three more hours taken from his sleep. He 
never paid a visit save through a necessity of business, grati 
tude or chnrit} . In the discharge, even, of his duties, in 
charitable reunions, notwithstanding all his condescension, lie 
avoided useless words and digressions and alwa3 S led the others 
back to the question by this ordinary word: " Come, let, us to 
the subject; we must try to finish." This is how, according to 
the remark of Mademoiselle de Lamoignon. he alone had done 
more good works than any twenty other saints. 

Vincent, we have said, icquired in all t who wished to unite 
themselves to him first a real vocation, and then perseverencein 


that vocation. On this two-told subject he said, one day, 
to the Daughters of Charity ( 22nd of September, 1047): "Avo 
cation is a call IVom God lor the purpose of doing something. 
God says: I wish tiiis soul to sanctify itself in serving Me in 
such an occupation. Though His Divine Goodness often calls 
us by means that are unknown to us, yet He most frequently 
employs the strong desire, which He gives us, to be received 
into such a state, and the perseverance we manifest in our re 
quest. After this, we must no longer doubt that our vocation- 
comes from God; for when yon allow yourselves to entertain 
the doubt, it is, ordinarily, because you lind difficulty in the 
practice of poverty, of humility, and of obedience which the- 
demon endeavors to make appear to you Impossible. But God 
is immovable in His judgments, and the salvation of sou s is 
not of such little consequence to Him that He does not take 
all the necessary care to place them in the way the most sure- 
and most easy for them to secure it. But we must not leave 
that way. for should a person who is on a long journey turn. 
aside and leave the high-road he runs the risk of meeting only 
by-ways that will lengthen the distance. A man, with his 
orchard planted with good fruit, bearing trees, would incur the- 
risk of not only gathering no fruit, but also of killing the trees, 
were he to change them constantly and yearly transplant them. 
Judas, having been called to the apostleship and having had a 
participation in the graces of God. imagined he was not right 
when lie was. and thought to better himself elsewhere. You 
know his history and how he was lost. Lot us, then, remain 
where God has called us. Have you ever heard of a soldier 
who, without an order, left the post assigned him by his cap- ? When a soldier ia on duly, whether it rains or blows, 
whether it hails or freezes, even when cannon balls are falling 
on every side, he is not permitted to retire. He must remain 
even at the risk of death; and, should he prove so cowardly 
as to abandon his post, he is put to death without mercy, he is- 
taken out and shot; and why? Because he did not remain 
where his captain placed him. It is the same with the soul. 
Faithless to its vocation it no longer knows any rest. Far 
better for it would it have been, had it n3ver begun, for then, 
at least, it would not have to answer for so many graces re- 


ceived and abused. On the contrary, the soul that perseveres 
drives the demons back into hell when it resists their tempta 
tions. And it, at the same time, gives great joy to God ; for 
He is looking on, and takes a singular pleasure in witnessing 
its perseverance in what it has undertaken for His love, not 
withstanding all the combats of flesh and blood, and all the 
wiles of the evil spirit. 

" A good means to preserve us is to take resolutions, and to 
write them down for future use whenever the occasion presents 
itself. Afterwards, to re-read (hem and say to yourself: 
1 Was it not God who inspired me with that thought ? Was 
it not a good motive that influenced me to take that resolu 
tion? For we must expect temptations. 

" There are two classes of persons, however, who are never 
troubled with them: those who never resist, and 1 hose who 
tind the things of God so sweet and so agreeable that they 
never experience any repugnance. Hence, instead of being 
astonished if sometimes we sec ourselves tried, let us employ 
the means proper for resistance, and, above all, let us ask 
the grace rather to die a thousand times, were it necessary, 
than consent to temptations against our vocation. 

He desired a still more serious vocation for the priesthood. 
On the 5th of March, 1059, he wrote to a lawyer in Laval: 
" It is a misfortuno for those who enter the priesthood by 
the window of their own choice, and not by the door of a 
legitimate vocation. Yet the number of the former is very 
great; because they regard the ecclesiastical state as an easy 
manner of life, in which they seek their comfort rather than 
labor; and hence have arisen the ft-.irful ravages we see in 
the Church. For, to the priests aro attributed the ignorance, 
the sins, and the heresies that lay it waste. This it, was that 
forced St. John Chrysostom to declare t hat few priests would 
be saved ; and why ? Because God do es not give the graces 
necessary to fulfill the obligations of this sacred state bat to 
those whom His goodness has called, and It never calls any in 
whom it docs not p?rccive the proper qualification?, or 0:1 
whom it does not intend to bestow them. As fur all others, 
God allows them to advance, and permits them, inpunishmen 


for their temerity, to do more evil than good, and finally to 
destroy themselves. The call, then, to this holy profession 
must come from God, and this we see in the case of Our Lord 
Himself Who, being eternal priest, yet did not presume to 
exercise its duties until the Eternal Father had declared : 
Thi* in iny icdl Moved San, hear Him (Luke ix-35). This 
example, together with the knowledge I have of the disorders 
occasioned by priests, who have not lived up to the holiness of 
their character, induces me to caution those who seek my 
advice in regard to. receiving orders, against engaging them 
selves unless they have a true vocation from God, a pure in 
tention of honoring Our Lord by the imitation of His 
virtues, and other marks showing that His Divine Goodness 
calls them ; and this feeling is so strong within me that, were 
I not a priest, I never would bocome on?. This is what I 
frequently say to such aspirants, and I have repeated it over a 
hundred times in preaching to the country people." 

To confirm his own children in their vocation he said: " See 
the design of God in your regard in causing you to be born 
precisely at the time of the institution of the Congregation. 
You are the first called. If a king selected certain soldiers to 
lead in the assault, would not this honcr be a motive powerful 
enough to make them face death rather than give way ?" And 
then, addressing the brothers, he added : " You, too, as \vcll as 
the priests, lead "a life conformed to that of Our Lord : You 
imitate Him in His hidden life, during which h? was en 
gaged in corporal labor, working in a carpenter shop 
and performing household duties just like a domestic.. 
Thus yen imitate His life of thirty years, whilst the 
pries::;, ]n their functions, imitate only that of three and a half 
years ; you hcnn- the dependent liie of Our Lord and the 
priests His priesthood. Moreover, by reason of the union that 
exists between the members of the same body, an effect of which 
is that what one does the others are considered as doing, it is 
.certain that you labor in the confessional with the confessors, 
that with the preacher you preach, and that you evangelize the 
poor with the priests who evangelize them." (29 Oct. 1G3S.) 

He concluded in a general way: "Let us continue our 


voyage to Heaven in the ship in which God has placed us. The 
grace of perseverance is the most important of all; it crowns 
all others, and the death that finds us with arms in our hands 
is the most glorious and most desirable. Naturally, we desire 
to die at home, in the arms of those we love and surrounded 
by our relations and friends; but all do not yield to such ten 
derness; it is only those souls that are over-delicate. Our Lord 
wished to terminate His life as He lived : His life having been 
severe and painful, His death was hard and cruel, without any 
human consolation. This is why many have desired to die alone, 
abandoned by men, trusting to have God only to aid them." 

\Vhat sorrow and fear seized him when he learned that cer 
tain of his subjects had the thought of abandoning their voca 
tion ! He wrote, July 18th, 1G50 : " May God grant them the 
grace to open their eyes, to sec the danger to which they ex 
pose themselves in thus following the inclination of rebellious 
nature, which never accords Avith the spirit of Jesus Christ. 
Oh, IIOAV difficult, says the Scripture, for those who have fallen 
after having been enlightened to rise again! Indeed, they 
have every reason to fear that they will miserably wander if they 
leave the path in which God has placed them. For, how will 
they fulfill their duties in the world, where there are so many 
snares and obstacles, if they do not perform them in the state 
in which they are, and in Avhicli they are assisted by so much 
grace i rcm God, and have so many spiritual and temporal 
helps, all which will be wan ting to them outside their vocation? 
Yet we must not be surprised to see persons thus waver and 
turn back. The like are met Avith in the most holy communi 
ties, and God permits it to show men the weakness of man, to 
give the most determined and resolute a subject for fear, to 
try the good, and to give both an occasion for the practice of 
many virtues. Let them, at present, conceive a regret Cor past 
faults, let them purpose amendment, humble themselves, and 
become submissive and repair the bad example they have given; 
do you take special pains to assist them." 

We have seen in another chap tor the charitable efforts the 
Saint made to retain them ; but we must cite again that letter, 
so admirable for its longanimity : " It wonM be but justice to 
the Congregation to cut. off the diseased members. This is true, 


and prudence demands it. But, to give an opportunity for the 
practice oi all virtues, we now exercise patience, forbearance, 
and charity, even without the hopo of their improvement. We 
try, as remedies for the evil, different applications of meekness, 
of menaces, of prayer and admonition, and all with the hope of 
no other good than that which it may please God to work by 
Himself Our Lord did not; drive away St. Peter for having 
denied Him more than once, nor even, Judas, though he was 
to die in his sin. Therefore, I judge His divine bounty is much 
pleased to see us extend the kindness of the Congregation to 
those who are froward. thnt thus we may satisfy justice and 
omit nothing that can gain them to God." (July loth, 1050. 
to Almeras, Rome.) 
When any had left he consoled himself with the following 

coiicideration: After Mr. hnd left, I commenced, in my 

sorrow, to say my Office. But it pleased God to console me by 
the understanding He gave me of what lie had uone m having 
the trumpets sounded in the armies of Israel before ba tle. and 
having it proclaimed that those who Avcre afraid, or had mar 
ried, or had planted a vineyard, or built a house that y^ar 
should retire, considering that such classes of pvrsons would 
be of more injury than benefit in battle. And then it struck 
me what great evil some of those who had left, having become 
dispirited in their vocation by the example of a single one, Avho 
loved the things of the world, could haA e occa-ionsd in the 
Congregation had they renriined in it all their life-true. In 
this way God was pleased to comfort me very much. Perhaps, 
He took into account the fact that I was for a lull half-hour 
on my knees before one of the parties, trying to change ins 
mind, and was unsuccessful. 

"In the name of the Lord ! We must remember how many 
followed Our Lord and how few persevered with Him. I say 
we should remember this, in order that \ve may honor His feel 
ings on these occasions." (Aug. 20th, 1G42, Annecy.) 

Under the influence of such considerations, he did not wait 
until the subject left of his own accord, but took, himself the 
initiative either by refusing to receive those whom he foresaAv 
would not persevere, or by dismissing the incorrigible. He. 


wrote : " Where is the community that does not refuse appli 
cants who do not possess the requisite qualifications, or that 
does not send away those who do not behave well ? I was, 
some time ago, in the company of a great prelate, one who 
thoroughly understands what communities arc-. Some one was 
speaking of a certain community, and was praising it because 
it never sent away any it had once received. Thereupon the 
prelate expressed astonishment, and said, 0, poor commu 
nity! Thou scarcely tendest to thy perfection, since every des 
cription of subjects is suited to tlice. Every tree that is planted 
does not take root, nor does every grain sowed come up. The 
Kingdom of God is compared to a net cast into the sea that 
takes both good and bad fish, and the fisherman retains 
the good, and casts the bad back again into the sea. The 
Son of God did not receive into His company all those who pre 
sented themselves. He did not enforce His authority to re 
tain those who wished to withdraw ; but He offered those who 
remained their choice in saying to them : Will you, also, go 
away? ( John vi. OS.) If he did not dismiss Judas, it was be 
cause Judas was to be the principal instrument in His passion. 
I say all this in order that you may impress it upon those 
who think differently, and on those who are disposed to enter 
-the Congregation, as well as on their parents. The Son of 
God informed His apostles ol the dangers they would incur, 
and I think the missionaries would do well to act in the same 
Avay to honor the simplicity and candor of our Lord in this as 
in all other things. Yes, but many will be scandalized ly this 
manner of acting, and wil! not enter the Congregation. I 
answer : First, it will be a scandal taken, if what is in vigor 
in all well regulated communities in the church of God can be 
called scandal ; second, if it be our Lord Who calls them the 
fear of being sent away will not deter them from coming; and 


if it. l>2 not He, we ought to be well pleased that they do not 
enter the Congregation, for it ought to desire only those whom 
God sends, because all others will never be of any advantage." 
(Aug. x!S. 1G5G). 

lie wrote in a still more decided tone in relation to the 
dismissal of dangerous subjects: " Our seminary is being filled 


up; I think our Lord grants us tins as a reward for the fidelity 
of the Congregation in purifying itself of refractory members. 
One of our priests here told me that six of the best could not 
do a? much good as one who was beyond correction could do 
evil .... We must purge the Congregation. Ten of the 
right sort are worth a hundred, and a hundred, that are not 
called, or who do not correspond with the designs of God, are 

not worth ten. (25th of December, 1G42) Purify, 

yes, let us purify the Congregation of those who are profane 
and of those who are not agreeable to God and He will increase 
and bless it. God, having wished to put to death three thous 
and men because they had adored the golden calf, answered 
Moses, who wished by his prayers to stay His hand: Let me 
alone that my wrath may be kindled ayainst them, and 1 will 
maTce of thee a great nation. (Exodus xxxii., 10). According 
to this, then, to diminish in a community the number of those 
who offend God is to augment it both in virtue and number, 
for well-regulated and virtuous communities attract subjects. 
Yes, but those sent away will write and otherwise incense the 
public against the Congregation ! They will occasion no more 
harm than God will permit thtm to do ; and the injury they 
may do us will turn to our benefit. And, moreover, would 
we not be unworthy to serve God m the state in which we are, 
if, to hinder a person from doing us an evil, we were willing 
to suffer him to vitiate the service and glory of God among 
us? Uemembcr that the decay of most of the communities 
comes from the cowardice of superiors who are too weak to 
hold a strong hand and who neglect to dismiss the froward 
and those who are unwilling to be corrected." (20th of March, 
1G43, Rome). 

To forestall the sad necessity of such extreme measures, we 
have said that the Saint watched most sedulously over the 
training of those whom he admitted to the internal seminary. 
He did not neglect to animate and sustain all by his living 
and powerful word : " Whoever desires to live in community," 
he said, "should resolve <o live as a pilgrim on earth; he 
should be satisfied to become foolish for Christ s sake ; should 
make up his mind (o change his manners and habits, to mor- 


tify his passions, to seek God solely, to subject himself, as if 
the least, to every one ; he should fully persuade himself that 
he came to serve and not to bo served, to suffer and labor, and 
not to live in delight and idleness. He should know that one 
is tried as gold in the furnace, that perseverance is only at the 
price of humbling himself for God s sake, and lie should be 
convinced that in doing thus he will obtain true content in 
this world and eternal life in the next. 

Everything furnished him with an occasion to instill into 
their minds the most heroic dispositions. When he learned 
that a missionary had been maltreated in a foreign country, 
he recounted the affair, and added: May God grant that all, 
who seek admission into the Congregation, may come with the 
thought of martyrdom, and with the desire to suffer death 
and to consecrate themselves wholly to the service of God, 
either in foreign countries or in the their own or where else 
soever it will please God to make use of the little Congrega 
tion! Yes, with the thought of martyrdom! Oh, how we 
should often ask this grace from our Lord ! Ah ! gentlemen 
and my brothers, is there anything more reasonable than that 
we should be consumed for Him Who has so generously given 
His life for us? If our Lord has so loved us as to die for 
us, why will we not have a like affection for Him and prove 
it when occasion offers? We see so many popes, who, one 
after the other, were martyred Is it not strange to set: 
merchants traverse seas and incur an infinity of dangers, all 
for a little more gain ? Last Sunday I was speaking with one. 
who told me that a proposition to go to the Indies was made him, 
and that he had resolved to go. I asked if there were no dan 
ger: he told me that there was very great danger; that though 
it was true such a merchant whom he knew had returned, yet, 
such another had not. I then reflected : if this person, for 
the purpose of seeking some precious stone or for the s:ike 
of gain, is thus willing to expose himself to so many dangers, 
how much more should not we brave in order to carry the 
precious gem of the Gospel, and gain souls to Jesus Christ! " 

He wanted studies to be prosecuted with moderation and 
humility. He wrote, on the 18th of July, 1050: "The desire 


to learn is good, provided it bo moderated. . . Remember 
the advice of St. Paul, who recommended us to use sobriety in 
learning. Mediocrity suffices, and whatever is aimed at 
beyond this is rather to be feared than desired for the laborers 
of the gosp?l, because it is dangerous, it puffs up, it leads them 
to show off, to become self -conceited, and finally to shirk the 
humble, simple and ordinary duties, which, nevertheless, 
are the most useful. Hence-, our Lord selected disciples who 
were capable of doing but the humblest things. If we labor 
for the salvation of souls in the spirit of our Lord, He will 
give us the lights and the graces necessary to succeed. If you 
desire to know only Jesus Christ crucified, if you wish to live 
only His life, doubt not that lie Himself will be your science 
and your guide." He said again in a conference : " The 
learned, and, at the same time, humble, are the treasure of the 
Mission, as good and pious doctors are the honor of the 

He dreaded the transition from the purely spiritual exer- 
oises of the seminary to the distractions of studies, and ho 
multiplied his instructions in order that the students might 
not diminish in fervor according as they advanced in knowl 
edge. He said: "Glass, when taken from the furnace and 
placed in the cold, is in danger of breaking ; so a young man, 
who passes from a place of recollection, vigilance and prayer, to 
the tumult of a class-room rims the risk of becoming disturbed 
in his practices of piety. Strive, then, to maintain your first 
fervor and prevent nature from assuming the upperhand. 
Incite your will in proportion as your understanding is en 
lightened v.ith new knowledge, and make use of your study as 
a means to elevate yourselves to God. Let the light of the 
nrnd become a fire in the heart. Be firmly convinced that the 
science most useful for our neighbor is that which has its 
foundation in piety. Fly curiosity, that pest of a spiritual lile, 
winch has introduced so many evils into the world. Fly the 
inordinate desire of knowing, which dries up devotion and 
closes the soul to the lights of Heaven. I have remarked that 
common and ignorant persons ordinarily make rheir pr.tyer 
better than men of learning. God delights in communicating 
Himself to the simple, because they are more humble than the 


learned, who are always so full of themselves. Would that 
you all had the learning of St. Thomas, but on condition that 
you also had the humility of the holy doctor! Pride ruins the 
wise, as it ruined the angels, and knowledge without humility 
has ever been baneful to the Church. Love, then, humility 
and do not become conceited. The most insignificant demon 
in hell knows more than the most subtle philosopher, or the 
most profound theologian on earth. God does not need the 
learned to do His work ; He rejects them, on the contrary, 
when they are proud, prefers the simple, and even women, as 
lie did in the last century for the reformation of a very cele 
brated order in the Church. In conclusion, employ your youth 
in fitting yourselves for the service of your neighbor. Do not 
lose your time, fcr the work is urgent, and infinitely exceeds 
the number of workmen. The people in the country ;ire being 
lost for want of instruction, and the greatest portion of the 
earth is still buried in the darkness of infidelity. Study, there 
fore, labor to acquire knowledge., but without losing humility.-" 

Whilst he condemned a Vain curiosity he cautioned the com 
munity against sensuality. "Wo," he said, "to him, who 
seeks his own satisfaction! Wo to him, who hVs the cross! 
For he will fiud others so heavy that they will overwhelm him. 
He, who makes light of exterior mortifications under pretext 
that the interior sire much more important, sufficiently shows 
that he is mortified neither interiorly nor exteriorly." 

He said, at another time: -I have remarked in the most 
of those, who suffer shipwreck in their vocation, a remissness 
in two things: the first is rising in the morning in which 
they are not exact; and the second is effeminacy in regard to 
the hair, letting it grow too long, and insensibly allowing them 
selves to become attached to other like vanities." 

We see what importance the saint attached to rising, and 
morning meditation. Here is a long letter he wrote, on this 
subject, on January loth, 1G50, to the superiors of his houses: 

" You know that everything in this world is subject to some 
change, that man himself is never in the same condition, and 
that God often permits abuses to creep into the most holy 
communities. This has happened in some of our houses, as 


we have lately become aware by the visits that have been made 
to them, without, however, knowing at first the cause. To 
discover it required patience and study on our part. At last, 
God has shown us that the liberty on the part of some to re 
pose longer than the rules allow has produced the evil results; 
all the more so as they, not being in prayer with the others, 
deprive themselves of the advantages that exist in making it in 
common, and they frequently make none at all or very little 
in private. Hence it is that such persons, being less vigilant 
over themselves, become languid in their actions, and the com 
munity becomes irregular in its practices. 

" To remedy this disorder the cause must be removed ; and 
lor this purpose, exactitude in rising must be recommended, 
and firmness in maintaining it shown; so that, little by little, 
each hcu^e may come to change its appearance, exhibiting 
more devotLn to rule, and individual members, in their own 
particular, may become more solicitous for their spiritual ad 
vancement. This has furnished us with the occasion to take 
for the subject of our first conference, this new year, the first 
action of the day, in order to strengthen ourselves all the more 
in the resolution of invariably rising at four o clock. The 
felicitous results of fidelity in this, and the inconveniences 
arising from the contrary having suggested to us the motives, 
I have considered it my duty to communicate them to you, 
I have added the objections and answers that may be advanced 
in relation to this matter, and the means that may be made 
use of, in order that you may acquaint your community and 
thus strengthen it in this practice, or, if it be not already ex 
isting, introduce it that thus it may participate in the same 

The first advantage,resulting from promptitude in rising as 
soon as the signal is heard, is that AVC fulfill our rule, and con 
sequently do the will of God. Second, the obedience shown 
at that hour, being so much the more pleasing to God 
as it is the more prompt, draws down likewise His blessing 
on the other actions of the day. as appears from the 
example of Samuel, whose alacrity in rising three times 
in one night was praised by Heaven and earth and merited 
great favors from God. Third, the first of good works is 


the most honorable. But, all honor being due God, it is 
only reasonable to give Him our first good action. 1C we re 
fuse, we give the devil the first share, and prefer him to God. 
Hence, this lion lies in wait around our bed in the morning 
ready to receive this action, and thus be able to boast that if 
he cannot obtain anything else from us during the day, he has 
had, at least, the very first fiction. Fourth, in accustoming 
ourselves to the hour, we contract the habit. In a short time 
. we become quick to respond to the signal, the habit even serves 
as an alarm where there is none, and we experience no difficulty 
in promptly leaving our beds. Whereas,on the contrary, nature 
is encouraged by the indulgence we allow it: having reposed 
one morning, it demands like gratification the next, and will 
continue to demand it until all hope ba absolutely taken away. 
Fifth, it Our Lord left Paradise and became so poor here on 
Dearth as not to have whereon to lay His head, how much more 
ought not we leave a bed, and go to Him? Sixth, wellrcgu- 
lated sleep is beneficial to both body and mind, but he who 
sleeps much becomes effeminate. Moreover, temptations arise 
during that time. Seventh, if the life of man is too short to 
worthily serve God and repair the evil use he has made of his 
nights it certainly is a deplorable thing to wish to still shorten 
the little time left for that object. A merchant rises early 
that he may become wealthy; his moments are precious; 
thieves do as much, and lay in wait the entire night to sur 
prise the passers-by; will we be less diligent m good than they 
in evil ? Worldlings make morning calls, and are careful to be 
present at the levee of the great. My God ! what a shame, if 
laziness will cause us to lose the hour assigned for converse 
with the Lord of Lords, our Support and our All ! Eighth, 
when we assist at prayer and at repetitions we share in the 
blessings of Our Lord, Who then abundantly communicates 
Himself, being Himself present, as He assures us, in the midst 
of those assembled in His name. The morning, being the 
most tranquil portion of the entire day, is the most proper 
time for prayer. Hence, the ancient hermits and the saints, 
after the example of David, always devoted the morning to 
prayer and meditation. The Israelites were obliged to rise 
early in the morning to gather the manna; and we, who are 


without grace and without virtue, why should not we do in 
like manner to acquire both? God does not bestow His favors 
equally at all times. And, indeed, since He has granted us the 
grace to all rise at the same time, we see among us here greater 
punctuality, more recollection and modesty, and this inspires 
the hope that, as long as this beautiful order will endure, vir 
tue will make constant progress, and each will become more 
confirmed in his vocation. Indolence and negligence have in 
duced many to leave us, because they could not love a life 
wherein they were not able to satisfy themselves as they would t 
like. How is it possible to willingly go to prayers if AVC rise 
Avith reluctance? To meditate properly when AVC are only hall 
in the church, or are there simply for the sake of appearance ? 
On the contrary, those, who love to rise, ordinarily persevere, 
rarely become remiss, but rather make happy progress. The 
grace of vocation is attached to prayer, and the grace of prayer 
to that of rising. If, then, we be faithful in this first action, 
if we all meet together before Our Lord and present ourselves to 
Him, as did the first Christians, He, in turn, will g lA e Himself to 
us, He will enlighten us with His light, and will Himself operate 
in us and by us the good we are called to do in His Church ; 
in a Avord, He will grant us the grace to attain to that degree 
of perfection which He desires of us, that we may one day fully 
possess Him during an eternity of ages. See, sir, of what im 
portance it is that the community rise exactly at four o clock, 
since prayer derives all its value from this first action and 
since all our other actions possess only what prayer gives. lie, 
Avho said that he judged from the manner of his prayer how 
all the other actions of his day Avould be, Avell kneAv this. 

But, in as much as the delicacy of some will not surrender 
without a struggle, for it has a pretext, [ foresee that it Avill 
tell me the rule of rising ought not to equally oblige persons 
of feeble constitution and those Avho are more robust, and that 
the former require longer sleep than the latter. To this I 
oppose both the opinion of physicians, who maintain that 
seA en hours sleep suffices for such persons, and the example of 
all the orders in the Church. All limit themselves to seven 
hours and there is not one that takes more. Some have not 
even that much, and the greater number have it broken, for 


they rise once or twice- to go to choir. And what condemns 
our cowardice is that the Daughters ol St. Mary I except 
those who are in the infirmary though weak and tenderly 
educated, have not a greater privilege. But, do they not at 
times rest longer than usual ? Xo ; I have never heard so. 

" Another will ask : -Sir, must a person rise when he feels in 
disposed ? I have had a severe head-ache, a tooth-ache, a fever, 
that prevented me from closing an eye almost the entire night 
long. Yes, my dear friend, you must rise, unless you be in 
the infirmary or have permission to remain longer in bed. 
For, if seven hours of rest have noc relieved you, neither will one 
or two taken of your own accord cure you. Moreover, though 
in effect your pain might be alleviated, it is expedient that 
you give glory to God in union with the others by rising, and 
then you can represent your indisposition to the superior: 
otherwise we will always have to begin, because frequently 
many feel some inconvenience-, and more may imagine sickness 
in order to indulge nature. All this would, give rise to con 
stant disorder. If a person has not slept one night, nature will 
know ho\v .to supply for it the next. 

" But, sir, do you likewise mean that those who arrive, after 
a journey, be also deprived of the extra rest?" 

"Yes, the morning rest. Should the superior judge that 
the fatigue is such as to require more than seven hours sleep 
he will have them retire earlier than the others." "But 
should they arrive very late and very much exhausted ? " In 
such a case there will be no harm to allow them to repose in 
the morning, for IK- re necessity answers for rule." 

"What! rise every morning at four o clock! And the 
custom is to take a repose once a week, or at least once every 
fifteen days in order to recruit ourselves a little ! That is very 
hard, and liable to render us sick." - Such is the language of 

O O 

self-love, and here is my answer: both our rule and our custom 
require that we all rise at the same hour. ]f laxness has crept 
in, it is only recently, and it is confined to a few houses,andhas 
been occasioned by the abuse of individuals and the toleration 
of superiors ; for, in other houses, the practice of rising has 
always been faithfully observed. Hence, they have ever been ia 


benediction. To suppose that "any will become sick because 
no intermission in. this exactitude is permitted is sjmply an ima 
gination; experience proves the contrary. Ever since all began 
to rise regularly at tbe appointed time we have here none sick 
who were not so before, and we have none elsewhere.* And 
we know, and the doctors declare, that too much sleep is in 
jurious to those of phlegmatic constitution and those whose 
humors arc vitiated. 

"Finally, if it be objected that there may be some necessity 
preventing a person from retiring to rest at nine, or even at 
ten o clock,and that then it is but reasonable he should take in 
the morning what he lost at night,! answer that we must,as far 
as possible, avoid whatever may prevent us from going to rest 
at the appointed hour; and if this cannot be clone, it is so sel 
dom that the loss of one or two hours sleep is slight in com 
parison to the scandal that is given by remaining in bed whilst 
the others are at prayer. 

"llave I not done wrong, sir, in dwelling so long on the 
importance and utility of rising, since, perhaps, your commu 
nity is one of the most fervent and most regular in the entire 
Congregation? If it be so, my purpose is no longer to per 
suade any anything else than gratitude for the faithfulness 
God gives. But if it have fallen into the abuse we are com 
bating, I am right, it seems to me, in inviting it to correct 
itself, and in praying you, as I do, to seo that it does. Xo\v, 
here are briefly the means to be employed by you and your 

" Those for the community are : First, it should convince 
itself that exactitude in rising is one of the most important 
practices in the Congregation ; for, as is the beginning, such 
will be the remainder of the day. Second, to offer itself to 
God at night before retiring, and ask of Him the strength to 
overcome itself in the morning without delay, and for this 
purpose to invoke the assistance of the Blessed Virgin by the^ 
recital of a Hail Mary, kneeling, and recommend itself to its 
angel guardian. Many have found this means of very great 
advantage. Third, each one should represent to himself that 
the sound of the bell is the voice of God, and as soon as he 


hears it he should rise immediately, and, making the sign of 
the cross, prostrate himself, kiss the floor, a:ul adore God I M 
unison with the rest of the community; and when he fails in 
this he should impose a penance on himself. There arc those 
who give themselves the discipline for as long a time as they 
lost in disputing with the pillow. Finally, the last means tor 
each individual is never to swerve from this exactitude; for 
the more we give way the more difficult it becomes. 

"The general means which are dependent on your care, 
and that of the officers for the house, are: First, that a per 
son be appointed who will go from room to room, give a light 
Avhen necessary, and say in a loud voice, Benedicamus Domino, 
and repeat it until he receives an answer ; that, after, another 
go the round of the rooms, and even a second time, where the 
community is large. Those designated for these purpose 
should be exact in their duty. 

"Second, that those who make t!u visit be strict, and under 
no pretext whatever allo\v any, not in the infirmary, exc. pt in 
case of necessity, to rest later than four o clock. This ex.u-ti- 
tude in rising has been found sj beautiful and so bonciioial, 
that the conclusion has been arrived at that those who are un 
faithful ought not be intrusted with any offices in the congre 
gation, because their example would soon produce laxncsj in 
this point, and they could with ill grace take for themselves 
what they would be obliged to refuse the others. May it please 
God to forgive us our past failings and grant us the g ace to 
correct them, that we may become as those faithful servants 
\vhcm the Master, when He comes, will find watching! Amen, 
1 say lo you, says Our Lord, lie will nfake them kit to meat, 
and, passing , will minister to th<m; and if lie shall come in the 
second watch, or if. He shall cone in the third watch, and find 
tlicm so, blessed are these servants. Verily, 1 say unto you He 
wiU set than over all //=? posscssdh? " (Luke, x;i. ;]7.j 

The .Saint again recommended uniformity in sentiment, in 
will, and in action. "We will bi on our guard, he said, 
against elevating ourselves above others, or aiming to surpass 
them, for this destroys affection, introduces envy, and engen 
ders aversion. ]f, heretofore, we have striven to excel, in the 


name of God, let it happ?n no more. If I find myself capable 
of great depth in penetration, or great elevation in my dis 
course, I will confine myself, externally, to one half ; should I 
find myself able to pcifcrm any action exceedingly well, or 
display more than ordinary learning or erudition ah, away 
with all that! Our Lord has not acttd after that fashion. He, 
al! powerful as He was, accommodated himself to the under 
standing of the weak. Should two thoughts present them 
selves to me, the one beautiful and ingenious, the other com 
mon and less striking, 1 will adopt the latter and reject the 
former. Let us adjust ourselves fo mediocrity. Let the learned 
appear si with moderat on, and let the strong, who labor, la 
bor humbly. For all that is sa d and all that is done in regard 
to the poor people, in an elevated spirit, is vain and useless ; 
it all p?.-sess above their heads, the wind sweeps it over the 
housetops. What do these preachers, who exhibit new, curi- 
ou -. and strange wares in grave and lugubrious tones of voice? 
What do ihcy do ? They stir the feelings of nature a little, 
but they neither give life to the dead, nor shed the light of the 
Gospel on the people living in the darkness of ignorance. Let 
us-aim to give our exhortations with the least show of learning 
possible, and with less of eloquence, in order to conform our 
selves to others who preach but who have less learning and less 
talent. . . . Every one can approach mediocrity, but to sub- 
limitv only few can attain. He who has a superior mind can 
descend to a certain degree to which he who lias less talent can 
nsciMid. This will banish far from. us envy, rivalry, and detrac 
tion, and will proditce union and uniformity among ourselves, 
and in our actions. 

"L-:-t us form ourselves in this spirit if we desire to have 
within us the image of the Blessed .Trinity, if we wish to have 
a holy relation with the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost. In 
what do the unify and conformity in God consist if not in the 
equality and distinction between the three persons? And constitutes their love, if not their resemblance? And, 
asks he holy bishop of Geneva, were there no love among 
them what amiability would they possess? Uniformity, then, 
exists in the Holy Trinity : what the Father wishes that the 
Son desires ; what the Holy Ghost does, the Father and Son 


both do. They act alike, Their power is one and the same. 
They have but one -operation. Such is (he origin o! perfect on, 
and our model. Let us render ourselves uniform, and then 
we will be many, and yet as one, we will possess a holy uniiy 
in plurality. Let us examine in wh; t we differ, one from the 
other, that we may strive to resemble and moke ourselves equal, 
each to each ; lor likeness and equality engender love, 4 ml love 
tends to unity." (May 13th , 1(550.) 

To induce his subjects to mutually aid each other in the ob 
servance of the rules, to establish, among them a certain soli 
darity in fidelity, so as afterwards not to be obliged to employ 
harsh measures against transgressors, Vincent enjoined them, 
whether in private or in public, lo admonish each other. 

On (he advantages of admonitions, "he said: " Had wo a 
stain on our face and none fold us of it, would we not take it 
ill, and would we not feel thankful to the person that would 
draw our attention to it and thus spire us the mortification of 
the laughter of those who, but for the kindness of that person, 
would sco us in that condition? Also, we arc blinded in what 
concerns ourselves, and off en we do not know our own faults. 
Hence, have we not reason to complain of those who are charged 
with our direction, when, knowing our faults, they do not 
mention them to us, judging that we are unable or ar? not 
sufficiently mortified to bear an admonition ? Where is th? 
person, who, considering on one side the advantage of being 
admonished, and on the other ihc disadvantage of being de 
prived of that charity, will not say : Oh, I wish to be adm- M i:- 
ished, and it is the greatest f.vor that can be done me! What! 
All know my faults and I alone remain in ignorance! Of 
course, you must not be astonished to feel a repugnance to be 
admonished, for there are few who are not moved when Iheir 
faults are mentioned, bec.mso nature, loving itself so well, 
cannot but be pained thereby. But it must bo habituated to 
it, and we must punish ourselves when we perceive we have 
fallen into any fault and have not well received, the admoni 
tion. . . . Oh ! one of the keys to a spiritual life is to 
consent to receive admonitions, to accept them properly, and 
to believe that were we known as we really are, many other faults 
could be pointed out. For, if we look closely at ourselves we 


will perceive that there is not one on earth more wicked than, 
we are. And since we neglect to do so on account of the ugliness 
\ve might perceive, the admonitions disclose what self-love 
conceals, and if we take them in good part, we will, little by 
little, attain to great perfection. Were we sick, would we 
not be pleased to have our father informed, to have the physi 
cian notified and minutely instructed concerning the nature of 
our disease, and to have it made known to the entire house ? 
And why, i! not to receive comfort and relief? But sin ren 
ders our souls ill with a mortal sickness; why, then, net be 
glad that information of our condition be given our superiors, 
who are our spiritual physicians, and who can apply the proper 
remedies ?" (March loth, 1G4S, to the Daughters of Char 

And ho added: "But. " some one will say, such a one in 
form ;* i I committed such a fault, and yet it is not so ; or 
he added something not in accordance with the truth." I 
answer: the thing is true or not ; if true we have no reason to 
be put out because we are admonished ; we should, on the con 
trary, humble and correct ourselves. I fit be not true, well, 
\ve have an opportunity presented by Divine Providence to 
uffor, and to practise an act of heroic virtue. If the fault be 
somewhat exaggerated, or a circumstance be added we should 
also suffer it patiently. Tell me, my brethren, how did the 
Son of God, who was innocence itself, suffer the false accusa 
tions lodged against Him? You yourselves know, and I have 
no need to tell you. And why.then, will we bo so wretched and 
mean spirited as not to be willing to receive the advices given 
us? It is true that we arc not always masters of ourselves and 
cannot hinder the first movements of nature. When certain per 
sons are admonished you see them change color. What is that 
!:ut a first movement of nature, a movement which is not cul- 
able and of which, though one were a St. Paul, he cannot 
always be master? But if the mind, regaining itself, does not 
repress it. ah, then, there is sin. Herein we perceive the dis 
tinction between the animal and the rational parts of man. Ah, 
me ! how miserable I am ! I have great cause to humble my 
self before God, and all the more so as there is not a sin com 
mitted in the house of which I am not culpable. Even this 


very day I permitted myself some- little complacency. It is 
self-lovo that prevents us from proporly rcCDiving admonitions. 
Destroy self-will, says St. Bernard, and hell shall b ? no more. 
Let us earnestly give ourselves to (Jod that wo may proper! v 
receive the advices that may be addressed to us." (June 9th., 

The Saint wished tliat even superiors bi admonished. One 
of these having complained to him of one of his subordinates, 
he answered : "It is a little exercise Our Lord sends you to 
form yon in the proper manner of conducting those under 
yon. This will give yon a glimpse of the greatness of Our 
Lord s kindness in bearing with, when He was on earth, His 
apostles and disciples, and will give yon an idea of what He- 
had to suffer from both good and bad. It will, also, prove to 
you that superiority has its thorns like a 1 ! other condition?,and 
that superiors who are anxious to do (heir duly, botii in word - 
and b} cxample,havc much to sufie;, not only from the Iroward 
but even from the very best of their subjec s. Hence, let us 
give ourselves to God to serve Him in this stat? without any 
hope of satisfaction from nien. Our Lor.l will give us abund 
ance, provided we labor prop3rly to becom.3 mor- j OXLICL in iho 
observance of our rules, and to acquire tho virtues fkiin^ true 
missionaries, especially of humility and mortification. 
It seems to me, yon would do well, sir, to fell this gor,.l priest, 
on the occasion 01 his communication, or at s )m^ other suita-- 
ble opportunity, that you beg him to inform von of your fail -- 
ings; for in your position it oannot b^ but that yon commit 
many faults, not only in your capacity of superior, but also in 
that of missionary, and as a Christian. You would also do 
well to declare from time to time to your community than not 
only you consent to be admonished by the member o. 1 your 
house designated for that chari y ; but. moreover, tha: you 
would be pained were he to neglect it, or did he fail to write to 
the superior general according to the practice established in 
all \vcll regulated orders. You will, moreover, assuro them 
that you will not read the letters they write m? nor those 1 
write them. Oh, sir, how groat is human misery and what 
patience superiors need ! 1 close in recommending myself to 
your prayers, and I beseech you to offer them to Gol that Ele 


.may pardon rue the incomparable faults I every clay commit in 
my position a position of which I urn, of all men, the most 
-unworthy, worse than Judas in regard to our Lord." 

W? soo that the humble Saint was far from wishing to make 
. himself an exception in this. Hence, he said one day: "I 
afiirm that those,, who notice faults that tend to irregularity 
and the ruin of the Congregation, and do not inform, are 
guilty of that ruin and disorder. I, therefore, should be con 
tent ro be admonished myself; and if I did not correct myself 
of any scandalous failing which could bring disorder and de 
struction on the Congregation, or again, if I taught or main 
tained anything contrary to the doctrine of the Church, the 
Con-reg.ition, in assembly, should depose me and then send 

me away." 

The following is the manner of giving admonition. Ought 
they l-c public? Yes, in three cases :" First, when the evil 
is so inveterate in the guilty person that a private admonition is 
judged useless. For this reason our Lard did not reprimand 
Judas save in the presence of the other apostles, and then, 
even, in obscure terms. On the contrary, lie upbraided St 
Peter wlm wished to dissuade Him from His passion, and 
c Ailed him Satan/knowing well that thereby he would be bene. 
fitcd;socoiul,whcnthe persons whom we wifcli toadvise,are good 
but weak and unable to bear correction, no matter how gently 
given : a general recommendation, suffices to correct them ; 
third, when there is danger that others will, unless the fault 
be noticed, fall into the like. Beyond these, I think the ad 
monition should be given in private. 

" In regard to faults committed against the person of the 
superior the inferior should be admonished, bur, in doing so, 
attention should be paid to two or three things. First, ^ the 
admonition should never be immediate unless in necessity ; 
secoml,i t should be gen tie and suitable ; third,! t should be more 
by manner of reasoning, representing the inconveniences that 
result from the fault, and the superior, in reprimanding 
should make it plain to the inferior that the correction is given 
not through injured feeling, or because he himself is concern 
ed, but simply for the subject s own good and that of the 
Community." (13th of Aug. 1050). 


Vincent said further: "The first reprimand should b? givon J 
in great gentleness and kindness, and at a time wc-11 seized ; 
the second with somewhat insiv severity and gravity, and yet, 
with meekness, making 1 use of entreaty and charitable re 
monstrance ; and, finally, the third time, with zeal and firm 
ness, declaring to the culprit what will have to bo don.,- as a 
final resort. On every occasion we must, avoid re.preiien-.ling 
through antipathy, through stlf interest, or from a spirit of 
vengeance; otherwise, we f;>il in truth when- we say we admon 
ish in a spirit of humility and charity." (33th of Oct. l !3S). 

Xaturally, to impress such direction on his congregation it 
was to the superiors ol particular houses charged with the 
application of its principles that he addressed his most frequent 
and most precise instructions. 

He first spoke ofpositions and offices in general, and dwelt . 
on the heavy responsibility they imposed, in ordc-r to remove 
from imprudent ambition the desire of assuming so great a 
burden: "I do not know how I shall spoak to you on this 
subject, because it concerns myself." Here the- Saint nude a 
pause and humbled himself before Grod. "Nevertheless, I will 
lay before you my little thought. Although our Lord was the 
natural Master of all creatures, He yet made Himself th; last 
of all, the opprobrium, and the outcast cf men, taking in all 
places, and always, the lowest rank. You, perhaps, believe that 
a man is very humble and has lowered himself very much 
when he has taken the last place ? What! a man humbb hi in- 
self in taking the place of Our Savior? Yes, my brethren, the 
place of Our Lord is the last. lie who desires to command 
cannot possess the spirit of Our LorJ. This divine Savior did 
not come into the world to be ministered unto, but ro minis 
ter to others ; and lie has wonderfully practised this no!" only 
during the time He spent with His parents and those whom 
He served in order to gain III? livelihood, but, even as several 
of the fathers huve taught, whilst the Apostles dwelt with 
Him, serving them with His own hauls, washing their f?et 
and making them rest after their f-.itiguo. In fine, he r - 
bonded His Apostles when they disputed among themselves as 
to who should be the first, saying to them : f An<l w fn et 
will be the first among you shall be the last and the servant of all. 



{Mirx, x. 41.) It is the accursed spirit of pride witRin them 
that urge 1 .? men to aim to be in high position and have the di 
rection of others. I know of no other way of expressing this 
deplorable condition than by stating that these persons have 
thi- ovil one in themselves For the devil is the father of the 
; pride with which they are possessed. Oh, how dangerous is 
position, even when not ambit ioned! How difficult to muin- 
"taia virtue therein unless bv laboring constantly to annihilate 
oneself before God, and to mordfy o:ies?lf in ail things! For 
"the care and the troubles ol business distract and divert the 
mind from the love of God and from union with Him in prayer 
and recollection. To-day I said to a superior, who told me of 
some persons whom he destined 1 or positions : Alas! You 
send them to their destruction. But, what! It is a necessary 
evil. I heard one of the most; holy men I knew (the Cardinal 
de Bcrrullej say, and I have experienced the same myself, that 
the state of authority is so malignant that it leaves, by itself 
and of its nature, a base and detestable stain, which infects the 
soul and all man s faculties, so that, when not in office, he has 
all the difficulty in the world to submit his judgment, and 
obey. His arms, his gestures, his carriage, and his looks, al 
ways retain something savoring of sufficiency, unless, a thing 
very rare, he be a man thoroughly consumed in God. 

And then, what should cause one to tremble is the strict 
account God demands of those who have charge of others, 
oven were it a brother they had for a companion in their office. 
Oh, poor me ! What will 1 answer to God for myself, especi 
ally since my time has been so long? But yet. may God pardon 
me, if it be pleasing to Him. Yes, an account must be given 
of words, cf actions, of postures that may have scandalized in 
feriors, and of the faults they will have committed through 
our weakness and our negligence. In this connection it is related 
of Cardinal Bellarmin, that, whilst he was archbishop of Ca 
pua, he was informed of the dangerous illness of a bishop of 
his province. He went to see the sick prelate, and finding 
him in great peace and tranquility of mind, was surprised, and 
feared some fatal illusion, lie resolved to undeceive him, and, 
therefore, said to him : Whence is it, my lord, that you are 
in such great peace, and a peace so unknown to persons of our 


position iii like circumstances ? Have you carefully reflected? 
Have you maturely weighed the words of the Apostle : Re 
prove, entreat, rebuke, icith all patience and doctrine ? Is it real 
ly possible that you do not find yourself guilty in this so im 
portant a point? If you do not, disabuse yourself, for un 
doubtedly there is illusion on your part. This touched the 
bishop, who, melting into tears, excited himself to contrition, 
or, rather, became so porturbed that the archbishop was oblig 
ed to return and restore his peace of mind. my God! Who 
will not tremble at the awful moment of death, particular 
ly if he has sought after office? I asked a bishop recently if 
he did not feel the weight of his charge. Alas, sir, he an 
swered , the burden has not waited until now to make itself 
felt, for, three weeks after my consecration, I experienced so 
bitter a remorse that I would willingly have wished to 
have had the power of beginning anew. Such is, sooner or la 
ter, the state of those who have thrust themselves into dignity. 
What, then, shall we do to totally banish from the Congrega 
tion this detestable and diabolical spirit of ambitioning au 
thority ? 

"First. If any one among us feel this accursed appetite for 
office and superiority, lie ought to have constant recourse to 
the hair cloth, the discipline, and to mortification until God 
will have shown him mercy. He should go before the Blessed 
Sacrament and lament before God : Ah, my God, what have 
I done ? In very truth 1 am filled with sin, but, my God, why 
dost Thou permit me to stray so far from Thee by so deplorable 
and diabolical a spirit ? My God, forgive me ! Second. We 
.should return thanks to God for the grace he has given us of 
not allowing this spirit of authority and superiority to take 
possession of those who are in charge. On the contrary, all 
the superiors cf this little Congregation write me pressingly 
to release them ; and whenever I accede to their request they 
again write with such professions of joy and gratitude that it 
is impossible to suppose any lack of sincerity. Oh, my breth 
ren, what blessings the Congregation will receive as long at 
God will please to continue in it this spirit, which is the spirit 
of humility, the spirit of Our Lord. We must thank God for 
it, and I pray our brothers to do so in their communions and 


the priests in their masses ; it would even he well to celebrate 
mass for that purpose. Third. When obedient-, at a suitable 
time, calls us to an office, we should submit. This is what the 
bishop of Geneva ordained : -Whenever a sister, lie says, shall 
be elected to any office, though she consider herself unworthy, 
let her submit and receive the blessing, and let her place her 
trust in God for the grace necessary to acquit herself properly 
of her duties. For, when God calls us to any employment, Ho 
either sees the necessary disposition in us. or He is determined 
to confer it." 

" Our Saint said again: " Those who are in charge groan un 
der the weight, because they feel that they are feeble, and they 
believe themselves incapable of conducting others. If any pre 
sume the contrary he would be a source ol affliction to his in- 
feriors, for he would lack humiliry and the other traces neces 
sary to give consolation and ->!>d example to them. The gifts 
of God are manifold and He bestows them as He thinks proper. 
Suyh a per.jon is learned, bur, nnsuirod to govern, and such an 
other makes progress in sanctity, but is not the one to guide 
others. Therefore, it belongs to His Divine Providence to sum 
mon us to the employment for which Ho has given us- a fitness 
and not for us to insinuate ourselves into them." fMay 5th. 

On those who were legitimately appointed to office, he after 
wards lavished ins-ructions. Ho firs , recommended them to 
share their responsibility witH others by taking counsel. lie 
wrote: " Very far from it behm wrong to take advice, it 
on the contrary, expedient and eye n necessary to do so when 
the subject in question is important, or when we cannot 
ourselves come to any determination. In regard to 
temporal affairs, the counsel of some good lawyer or other intol- 
lig.-nt person outside should he s >nght ; and in what concerns 
the interior of the house we should conler with the proper of 
ficers, and also with others of the community whenever it soem ; 
proper. And when this is d >no wi:h all the necessary precau 
tions, the authority of God, which resides in superiors, suffers 
no detriment, but. on the contrary, the good order which re- 
sul s makes it more ioved and respected. I pray you to act in 
this manner, and remember that, in regard to changes, or ex- 


traordinury matters, you are first to propose them to the super 
ior general." 

He wrote to another : Live cordially and simply with your 
confreres, so that any one,seeing you all together, may not per 
ceive who is the superior. Do not take any decision in affuirs 
of little moment even, without their advice, especially the ad 
vice of your assistant. For my part I call mine together when 
ever any difficulty as to how I should act arises, whether in 
spiritual and ecclesiastical matters, or in temporal things; and 
iu regard to the hitter. I also consult those who have cliatge. ] 
even seek advico from the brothers in whatever relates to their 
department, on account of their knowledge of those thing s, 
blesses the decision taken in concert," 

Having taken counsel, and having formed a decision, lie would 
have them go directry and persuveringly to its execution. "When 
once we have recommended anything to God, and have taken 
counsel, we ought to adhere steadfastly to what has been de 
cided, and reject as a temptation whatever may arise against it, 
1-eing confident that God will not be displeased nor reprehend 
us. For we can say in legitimate excuse: (), Lord, I have 
recommended the affair to Thee, and ] have taken counsel; I 
could do no more to discover Thy will! The example of Pope 
Clement VIII. is a good case in point. An affair of grave im 
portance, concerning an entire kingdom, was submitted to him. 
Several couriers were dispatched to him and :,u entire year passed 
without his wishing to come to any decision, notwithstand 
ing all their representations.* He, mennwhile, recommended 
the affair to God, conferred with those in whom he had the 
greatest confidence, and whom he regarded as the most capable 
and enlightened, and. finally, after several consultations, he 
came to a conclusion favorable to the Church. And yet, after 
this, he had a dream wherein, it seemed to him, our Lord ap 
peared with a severe countenance reproaching him for what he 
had done and threatening to punish him. On awakening, being 
greatly distressed by such a vision, he communicated it to Car 
dinal Tolet, who, having considered the matter in the pres 
ence of God. toll the Pope not to be at all annoyed, that it was 
butan illusion of the devil, and that he had no cause for fear, 
since he had recommended the affair to God and had taken 
counsel, which was all that he could do. This good Pope. .- ccep> 


ing the Cardinal s advice, experienced no further misgivings on 
the subject." 

He recommended firmness particularly in maintaining the 
rule: " Those -who are in office must be firm in seeing that the 
rule be observed, and must use great caution so as to not give 
occasion for a falling off in this respect, through want of reso 
lution and exactitude 1 . Among all things that can occasion, in 
communities, a decline in their first discipline, I have seen 
nothing more dangerous than their government by weak and 
easy superiors or other oiliccrs who desire to please their in 
feriors and gain their affection. As disasters in war are usually 
attributed to the general of the army, so the faults committed 
in a community ordinarily arise from the negligence of the 
superior, and, on the contrary, the good state of the members 
depends upon the wise direction of their head. I have seen 
one of the most regular communities in the Church foil away in 
less than four years, through the negligence andsupineness of a 
superior. If, then, all the good of a community depends on the 
superiors, we ought, certainly, pray fervently to God for them, 
intrusted as they are with the guidance, and obliged to render 
an account of all under their direction." 

On the superior depends not only the good conduct of his 
confreres, but also, in seminaries, the proper education of 
young ecclesiastics : "Train them, sir," he wrote to a superior, 
"iu the true spirit of their calling, which consists especially in 
an interior life and in the practice of prayer and virtue. For 
it is not sullicient to teach them chant, ceremonies, and a little 
moral theology; the principal thing is to form them to solid 
piety and devotion. But for this, sir, we ought ourselves, the 
first, possess the^e, for it would be almost useless to give 
them instructions without the example. We ought to be reser 
voirs alwnys full, so that the water may flow without exhaust 
ing the supply. We should, ourselves, be imbued with the spirit 
with which we desire them to be animated, as no one can give, 
what he does not possess. Let us, then, earnestly beg it of our 
Lord and give ourselves to Him that we may endeavor to con 
form our direction and our actions to His. Then your seminary 
will diffuse a sweet odor both within and without the diocese, 
that will increase its numbers and draw down the blessings of 


Heaven. Hut, were you to act the master towards those under 
your charge, or were you to neglect or disedify them, it would, 
on the contrary, prove a serious obstacle to such a good. This 
will result if we seek too great an elegance in manners, too 
great a nicety in dress, too much delicacy at table, if we aim at 
consideration and honor, if we seek to recreate ourselves, to 
spare ourselves in labor, and hold too much converse with ex- 
terns. We must be firm, but not austere, in our government, 
and should avoid childish meekness which serves no purpose. 
We will learn from our Lord how our rules should ever be ac 
companied with humility and affabilit3 r in order to win over all 
hearts and offend none. 

To superiors again it belongs to insure the success of the 
missions: l> My great hope is that, with the grace of God, you 
will contribute. very much to the salvation of these people, and 
that your example will serve to enkindle in your confreres an 
affection for this good work, which will induce them to devote 
themselves to it in the places, at the times, and after the manner 
prescribed by you, who, like another Moses, will consult God 
and receive from Him the law which you will transmit to those 
whom you lead. Remember that the government of this holy 
patriarch was gentle, patient, forbearing, humble and charit 
able; and that in the conduct of our Lord, these virtues ap 
peared in their perfection in order that we mi^ht conform 

Consequently it was the superior s duty to regulate the con 
duct of his subjects both on the journey thither, and during the 
labors of the mission: "You will have charge, sir, of the 
direction of those who accompany you, and I pray our Lord to 
inspire you with His spirit and His manner of directing. Un 
dertake, then, this holy work in His spirit; honor the prudence, 
the foresight, the meekness, and the exactitude of our Lord. 
You will do a great deal if you have the rule observed as it 
should be, because fidelity in it will draw down the blessing of 
Heaven on all the rest. Begin, then, with exactitude in the 
hours of rising and retiring to rest, in prayer, the Divine Oilier. 
and the other exercises. Oh, sir, how rich a treasure is the 
habit acquired in these, and what inconvenience the contrary 
occasions! Why. then, will you not take the pains to acquit 


yourself of these duties for God s sake when you see people in 
the world, for the most part. so faithfully observe the order they 
hrvve established for themselves in their affairs? We rarely see 
judges full in rising, in going to court, and returning at their 
usual hours, or tradesmen, in the hour for opening and closing 
their shops. We. ecclesiastics, who are so given over to our 
own ease, are the only persons who follow the movement of our 

If the Saint imposed on superiors so heavy a burden he like 
wise aided them to bear it, by his encouragements, and by the 
consolations he lavished on them when in difficulties: -I com 
passionate with you in your trials," lie would write or. these 
occasions, you ought not to lie astonishe:! at difficulties. 
still less become disheartened, for they arc met with-evcrvwhen. 
Two men living together aie enough to try each other s patience; 
and even were you entirely alone you would prove a burden to 
yourself, and \vould have in yourself abundant to bear with, so 
true is it that our wretched lives are fullof crosses; I thank God 
for the good use to which you turn yours as I i;m persuaded 
3*m do. I have perceived too much wisdom and meekness 
in your character to think they will fail you in these untoward 
circumstances. If you do not satisfy every one, YOU should not 
therefore allow yourself to be annoyed: for our Lord. Himself, 
did not please all. How many h:;ve there been who havecriti 
eised His words and actions and how many will still be found 
to do the sumo? 

On another occasion, he wrote: " I well know there is .suf 
fering in the office you fill, and I pray our Lord to .strengthen 
you in your difficulties. These are the occasions wherein we 
acquire virtue, and when there is no trouble there is but little 
merit. Would it were pleasing to God to give us a great indi- 
ferenee f.r all offices. Oh! then, what an assurance we would 
have of doing His holy will, which ought to be our only aim, 
and what peace and content would be ours. 1 (Dec. 8, 1049.) 

He loved to see superiors humble and diffident of themselves, 
and when so, he hoped everything from their labors: "I have 
remarked the humble idea you have of yourself. This is very 
necessary for those who govern. But you know this diffidence 
!n your own strength ought to he the foundation of the confi- 


deuce you should place in God. For, without this confidence 
we often discover that we arc fur worse than we thought, and 
with it we find we can do a great deal, or rather God himself 
does what lie requires of its. Do not, therefore, fix your attention 
on what you are, without, at the same time, regarding our Lord 
near you and within you, ready to give you a helping hand a- 
soon as you turn to him for assistance, and then you will see- 
that all will prosper. Do not doubt but that, having placed 
you in position, He will give you the graces necessary to fill it 
properly, if you, for Ilir. love, undertake it with courage. 
(Dec. 19, 1046.) 

He comforted them especially, when they suffered from the 
conduct of their subjects, and recommended a charitable for 
bearance. You should bear with your confrere. If he had 
not these faults he would have others ; and had you nothing to 
suffer from him or from others, your charity would have very 
little exercise and your direction not sufficient resemblance to 
that of our Lord. He was pleased to have rude disciples and 
subjects who had many defects, so that he would haveJthe 
opportunity of manifesting towards them meekness, Immiltyr, _ 
and patience, and thus, by His example, show us how tho-t 
should act who have charge of others. Let this Divine Model 
be your rule, and he will teach you at the same time how to 
bear with your brethren, and how to help them to correct 
their fault. Evil must not be tolerated, but the remedy must be 
gently applied." 

And again : - The virtue of such and such a one is a repnndi 
to the others ; but this is because these have less regularity, less 
punctuality and solicitude for their own advancement and that 
of their brethren. Yes, their zeal and their exactitude are eye 
sores to those who have neither, because the courage and 
strength of the former condemn the cowardice of the latter. 


I acknowledge that virtue has two vicious attendants, defect 
and excess; but, in comparison with delect, excess is praise 
worthy and should be encouraged. Job complained to God of 
the rigor of His chastisement, his friends, who had been wit 
nesses of his righteousness, considered that his lamentations 
were unbecoming a just man. It seemed to them they were ex 
cessive, and they, consequently, reprehended him. Hut God 


became incensed against them, and, to appease Him the Saint 
was obliged to offer sacrifice for them. His virtue was so pleas 
ing to God, that he had a right to say what he did say, and 
yet these friends blamed him. And why? Because they were 
as persons who, with eyes bleared and sore, cannot gaze upon 
the rays of the sun without being dazzled. In like manner, 
those, who cannot attain to the virtue of these two o- O od 


missionaries, imagine there is excess, when before God there is 
not. The} find fault with their conduct, because they have not 
the courage to imitate them, Mnv God give us all. the o-race 
to consider as good everything which is not ovidentlv evil. 
I. July ISth, 1039 ) 

Impressed with such ideas ho*v he must b ame those who did 
not exercise meekness and patience! A superior having writ 
ten to him that he would prefer to rule animals than men. the 
Saint answered: What you write will bear explanation. Yes, 
your words arc true in regard to superiors, who desire that 
everything bend beneath them, that nothing resist them, that 
( verything succeed according to their inclination, that they be 
obeyed without reply or delay, and, so to say, that all adore 
them; but they are not true in regard to those who love contra 
diction and contempt, who look upon themselves as the serv 
ants of all, and who strive, in their government, to imitate our 
Lord, Him who bore with rudeness, rivalry, want of faith and 
the like from the members of His company, and who declared 
that He came to serve and not, to be served I know, sir, that, 
thanks to God, this same Lord has given you the grace to act 
with humility, and patience, and that you have made use of 
this lanouage only the better to express the difficulties you en 
counter, and-the more to persuade me to relieve you. We will 
try. however, to send some one in your place." 

He, sometimes, released superiors, but more frequently he 
answered their request : "So far from the reasons you allege for 
\ our discharge from superiority inducing us to seek another 
that, on the contrary, tbey confirm us in the determination of 
giving it to you altogether. The knowledge of your defects 
and your incapacity should serve to humble you as it does, but 
it should not discourage jou in the work Our Lord wishes 
you to perform. He possesses enough virtue and ability both 


for you and lor Himself. Let Him guide, and rest assured (hat 
whilst you remain in the humble sentiments in which 3 7 ou are 
at present, and place a special confidence in Him, His direction 
will sanctify yours. I trust in His goodness and in the holy 
use you will make of His grace." (April ]0th, 1058.). 

He answered another: "In regard to your request I pray 
you not to think of it, but rather hope that, under the ashes of 
that humility, which inclines 3-011 to submission to another, is 
hidden the spirit of our Lord, who Himself will direct your rule, 
will be your force in your weakness, your science in your doubts, 
and your virtue in your difficulties. On your part, sir, give 
yourself to iiirn that you may be a burden to none, that you 
mnv act towards each one with meekness- and respect, and, that 
your language may be always entreating and amiable, never 
severe and imperious. For there is nothing so capable of win 
ing hearts as this amiable and suave manner of action, and, con 
sequently, none so proper to attain your object which should 
be to have God served and souls sanctified." 

He did not neglect to recommend in temporal things the 
economy, modesty and mortification he himself so well prac 
tised. In times of scarcity and want, he said : "We must 
lament over the distress of the poor, and weep with those who 
weep, else we arc not disciples of Jesus Christ. "But what else 
should we do? The inhabitants of a beleaguered city examine 
from time to time v/hat provisions still remain. How much 
grain have we. they ask? So much. How man} 7 mouths are we? 
So mauv. And thereupon they regulate the quantity of bread 
each is to receive, and say: "With two pounds of bread a day 
we can continue for so long. And when they perceive the siege 
is to last longer, and that the provisions diminish, they limit 
themselves to one pound, to ten ounces, to six, to four, in order 
to hold out the longer and prevent capitulation through hunger. 
And Itow do they manage at sea when it happens that the ship 
is tossed and (hiven by the winds. and remains a long time from 
port? They count the biscuit and measure the fresh water and 
if there be not enough, with the usual allowance, to last- till they 
arrive in port, they give less; and the more they are delayed 
the more they d- .miriish each person s share. Now, if governors 
of cities and captains of ships act in this wise, and if wisdom 


even requires they should use these precautions, lest they 
might perish, why will not we do similarly? Do you think that 
the people in cities do not retrench something in their ordinary 
expenses, and tint the very wealthiest establishments* seeing 
that the vintage is over, do not economise in their wine, in the 
fear that next year they might not be able to procure a supply? 
Yesterday, some persons of quality from the city were here and 
llu y told me that most of the houses would entirely cut off the 
servants wine. They will tell them: Provide for yourselves; 
the wine in the house is only for the master. All this, my 
brethren, has made us think of what we should do, and, yester 
day, I assembled the ancient, priests of the house to hear their 
advice. Wo, finally, came to the conclusion to reduce, for this 
year, tiie community s allowance of wine at each repast to one 
gallon. This will pain some; who think they have more need of 
a little more wine; but,; s they are accustomed to submit to the 
orders of Providence, and overcome their appetites, they will 
turn this privation to their own profit as they do all other causes 
of mortifications. There will, perhaps, be others v;ho will 
complain because they are attached to their own gratification; 
carnal spirits, sensual and inclined to their own pleasure, un 
willing to deny themselves the least satisfaction and who mur 
mur against everything that is not in accordance with their 
taste. Oh, my Savior, protect us from this spirit of sensuality ? 
lie answered a superior who wished to build, under pretext 
of the good he could effect in a more commodious dwelling: 
"You sper.k of commencing to build. Oh, 1113- Jesus! My dear 
Mr, you must not think of it. It is a great mercy of God that 
the congregation has even so good a house whilst waiting till it 
please His Divine Goodness to send us aid. As regards the 
inconveniences 3011 adduce I must say that since we cannot pre 
vent them, we will not be the cause of them. And, moreover, 
all this seems to me to bear some resemblance to the conduct of 
God in regard K> Jlis people. He permitted great disorder for 
many ages, and the loss of an inlinit\- of souls that He might 
establish an order all divine, and save all by the advent, the 
life, the passion and the death of His Son whom lie sent when 
lie sa\v His people, prepared by so man3 Avarnings, so many 
prophecies, and so many ardent aspirations, disposed to receive 


Him. If this be :i false view, 1 withdraw; RIU! if you offer a 
better I will adopt it with pleasure." 

Economical of his own time the Saint preached the grand law 
of labor. He first gave the motives: "First, God has given an 
express command to man to gain his Head by the sweat of his 
brow; that is to say, by a labor so painful that the perspiration 
will flow from his face. This command is general and there is 
none who may claim exemption. God has not simply said: 
Thou shalt make use of the industry of thy mind to obtain toy 
livelihood, 1 but Thou shalt labor with thy hands, with thy 
arms, and with thy entire body, and with such an energy and in 
such fatigue that the sweat will fall in drops from off thy brow. 
Second, it is said in Holy Writ that the just man liveth by the 
labor of his hands; the Holy Ghost giving us to understand 
thereby thai, the greatest obligation of man, after that which he 
owes to God, is to labor to gain his livelihood. He likewise inti 
mates that, in reward for the hardships thus borne, he will bless 
him, and none will see him reduced to necessit3 T and become a 
burthen to any; but that he will always have sufficient to sup 
port himself and maintain his family; everything will prosper 
with him. for God will second his efforts and labor with him. 
The unjust, on the contrary, not working, is frequently a bur 
then to others, because he is forced to beg his bread, or else is 
in the occasion of taking what belongs to others. Third, God 
Himself constantly Works; He hr,s never ceased and never will 
cease to labor. He is active within Himself from all eternity: 
the Eternal Father engenders fix m all eternity His only Son: 
from the Father and the Son, mutually loving each other, the 
Holy Ghost from all eternity proceeds, through whom are con 
ferred upon us all celestial gifts: God does not cease to labor in 
time and outside Himself in the production and conservation of 
this grand universe. The heavens are ever in movement, the 
stars constantly exert their influence, the earth continually pro 
duct s, the seasons are all regulated; but all this beautiful order 
which we see in nature would instantly return to its original 
nothingness were God to remove His hand; more, God labors 
with each individual creatuie. He works with the artisan in 
his shop, with the woman in her household duties, with the bee 
and the ant in their gatherings, and He does not rest a moment 


from labor. l!u^ for whom does He work ! For man; yes, for 
man alone, in order to procure hhr. the means of preserving 
his life and to provide for all his wants. This being the case, it 
is quite reasonable that we, His creatures, should labor, and 
labor until the perspiration pours, according to the command 
He has imposed upon us. Fourth, Our Lord during His mortal 
life was always at work. Up to the age of thirty He worked at 
the carpenter s trade in the shop of St. Joseph, thus living by 
the labor of His hands, and in one of the most humble and 
painful occupations in the world. And we, pitiable and misera 
ble creatures, will we want to pass our time in laziness ? What 
did not Jesus Christ do from the age of thirty up to the moment 
of His death! He was always occupied; He was Irequcntlv in 
the holy temple instructing the people; He went about preach 
ing from village to village and gave Himself no rest. His pov 
erty was such that He did not have even a stone for His pillow; 
He ordinarily- lived on the alms given Him by Magdalene and 
other pious women who followed Him to hear His sermons; He 
sometimes went to eat with those who invited Him; but He was 
engaged night and day and at all hours in doing some good 
work. At one time He went to such a place when He knew 
there was a soul to gain, again He visited a sick person to give 
first, corporal, and then, spiritual health. Thus we should do. 
The apostle St. Paul, notwithstanding his numerous occupation?, 
lived by the labor of his hands, taking the time for this work 
either from the day or night, in order thus to be a burden to 
none, as he himself informs us in one of his letters. And yet, 
he was not a man of the common people; he was by birth of 
good condition, and eminent in virtue and in science; but 
he held the poverty of Jesus Christ in such high esteem 
that he scrupled to eat a mouthful of bread without having 
labored for it; and when, by reason of his great duties, he could 
not work during the day. he took the time from his rest at night, 
In the beginning of the primitive church everybody worked. 
The monks, after having assisted at the divine olfice, made 
mats and baskets out of rushes, as a means to procure them 
selves the necessaries of .life. In the time of St. Bernard this 
custom was still in vigor, and the religious lived veryholily; 
but, since it has been abolished, there has been a jn-eat falling 


away in the discipline of the regular orders. For. idleness is the 
mother of vice; yes, it is the nurse. 

"But in what disposition should \ve labor? First, we should 
have the intention of pleasing God, for He delights to see us oc 
cupied in good things, and for a good purpose. Second, to 
honor the painful labors of Jesus Christ, Who, during His mor 
tal life, did not spare Himself, but engaged in the greatest 
labors. Third, for the service of our neighbor, who is so dear 
to Our Lord that He regards as done to Himself whatever we do 
for the relief of His poor members." (To Daughters cf Charity, 
Nov. 1049.) 

In the following advices given to a newly appointed superior 
we find, admirably abridged, both the Saint s own method of 
government and that which he prescribed for others. 

" Oh, my dear sir, what and how great, think you, is this 
office of governing souls to which God has called you? What 
profession, imagine you, is that of the Priests of the Mission, 
who are obliged to manage and guide minds whose movements 
God alore knows? The art of arts, the government of soul*! 
This was the employment of the Son of God while on earth; for 
this He descended from Heaven, was born of a virgin, gave 
every moment of his life, and finally suffered a most ignominious 
death. You, consequently, should conceive a very great esteem 
for what you are about to undertake. 

" But what arc the means to properly fulfill the duties of this 
office? To lead souls to God? To oppose the torrent of the 
vices of a people, or the faults of a seminary? To inspire senti 
ments of Christian or ecclesiastical virtue in those whom God 
will confide to your care, to contribute to their salvation or their 
perfection? Certainly, sir, in this there is nothing human; here 
is not the work of man, it is the work of God. A great ivork. 
It is the continuation of the work of Jesus Christ, and, conse 
quently, human industry, can do nothing here but ruin all, un 
less God interferes. No, my dear sir, neither philoscplry nor 
theology, nor eloquence operates in souls. Jesus Christ must 
unite with us, or we with Him; we must work in Him and He 
in us; we must speak as He spoke and in His spirit, just as He 
Himself was in the Father, and preached the doctrine which the 


Fill he i 1 had taught Him. Tliis is the Language of Sacred 

"You must then, sir. divest yourself of yourself, and clothe 
yourself with Jesus Christ. You will easily understand how 
ordinary causes produce effect? of like nature; for instance, a 
sheep begets a sheep, and man begets man. So, too, if he who 
guides others, who forms them, who speaks to them, is animated 
only wiih a human spirit, those, who will behold him, who will 
listen to him, who will aim to imitate him, will become all 
human. He will infuse into them, no matter what he says or 
what he does, only the shadow, and not the substance of virtue; 
he will communicate to them the spirit with which he himself 
is animated, just as we see masters impress their maxims and 
their manner of action on the minds of their disciples. 

On the contrary, if a superior be all in God, if he be 
thoroughly imbued with the maxims of our Lord, his every word 
will be efficacious, there will go out from him a virtue th:it will 
edify, and all his actions will prove so many salutary instruc 
tions which \vill influence all those who may become cognizant 
of them. 

"But to attain to this, sir, our Lord,. Himself, must imprint 
on you His mark and His character. For, as the grafted wild- 
stock bears fruit according to the nature of the graft, so we, 
miserable creatures, who are but flesh, h-iy, and stubble, do 
what our Lord has done on earth, when once he imprints on ns 
His character; He gives us, so to speak, the sap of Ilis spirit 
and of His grace, and unites us to Himself as the branch of the 
vine is united to the vine. I mean that we do divine actions, 
and, like St. I aul, who was full of His. spirit, we beget children 
for our Lord. 

A very important thing, and one to which you must devote 
yourself with care, is to have frequent communication with God 
in prayer. This is the reservoir wherein you will find the in 
structions necessary for you in the duties of the position you 
are about to assume. When doubt arises, have recourse to God, 
and say to Him: Oh, my Lord, Thou Who art the Father of 
light, teach me what I must do in this circumstance. 

"I advise this not only in regard to difficulties that will oc- 


casion you trouble but also that you may learn directly from 
God what you will have to teach, in imitation of Moses who 
announced to the people of Israel only what God had inspired 
him : 2 J hus saith the Lord. 

" And again, you should have recourse to God in prayer to 
preserve your soul in His fear and in His love; for, alas, sir, I am 
bound to tell you. and you ought to know, a person is often lost 
whilst contributing to the salvation of others. Such a one does 
very well in private, but, occupied outside, he forgets himself. 
Saul was found worthy of the kingly dignity, because lie led a 
good life in the house of his father; and yet, after having been 
raised to the throne, lie miserably fell away from the grace of 
God. St. Paul chastised his body, lest, after having preached 
to others and having shown them the way of salvation ; he him 
self should become a reprobate. 

But, to avoid falling into the misfortune of Saitl and Judas, 
we must unite ourselves, inseparably to our Lord, and, raising 
our minds and hearts, often say: O. my Lord, do not permit 
that in saving others I should become miserably lost myself; 
be Thou Thyself my pastor, and do not deny me the graces 
which Thou hast bestowed on others by my agency and through 
the functions of my ministry." 

"You should again have recourse to prayer to demand of 
our Lord the graces necessarj for those under your charge. 
He firmly persuaded that by this means you will reap more fruit 
than by any other. Jesus Christ, Who should be your example 
in all your actions, was not content with preaching, with labor 
ing, with fasting, with shedding His blood, or even with dying; 
to all that, moreover, He united prayer. lie had no need for 
Himself; it was therefore for us that He prayed so often, and to 
teach us to do the same as well in our own needs, as for the 
necessities of those of whom, with Him, we ought to be the 

"Another thing which I recommend to you is the humility 
of cur Lord. Often sny: O, my God, what have I done to 
merit such an employment? Where arc the works that corres 
pond to the burden placed upon my shoulders? Ah, my God, 
I will spoil all if Thou,Thyself,dost not direct all my words r.ud 


all my works. Let us always look .it all that is human and 
imperfect in us and we will find only too much reason to hum 
ble ourselves not only before God, but before men, and in the 
presence of our inferiors. 

"Above all, do not give w.iy to the desire of appearing the 
superior or master. I am not of the opinion of a person who 
said to me, some days ago, that to govern well and to main 
tain authority, one should show that he was superior. Oh, my 
God! Our Lord Jesus Christ has not thus spoken; He has taught 
us the entire contrary both by word and example, declaring to 
us Himself that He had not come to be ministered unto, but to 
minister, and that ho, who would be master, must become the 
servant of all. 

" Be inspired with this holy maxim, and act towards all with 
whom you will dwell as one of themselves; tell them, first of all, 
that you have not come to be their master, but rather to be 
their servants. Do this both within and without, and you will 
experience its good effects. 

Still more, we ought always refer to God the good that is 
done through our instrumentality, and. on the contrary, attribute- 
to ourselves all the evil that happens in the community. Yes, 
bear in mind that all the disorders arise principally from the 
superior, who, ln r his negligence or his bad example, introduces 
irregularity, as the members of the body languish when the head 
is unsound. 

" Humility should also in hice you to shun all complacency, 
which easily insinuates itself, especially in occupations that at 
tract attention. Oh, sir, how dangerous to all good works is 
the poison of vain Complacency! It is a bane that corrupts the 
most hoby actions and that soon superinduces a forgetfulness 
of God. In the name of God, beware of this defect; I 
know of none more dangerous to progress in spiritual life, and 
to perfection. 

For this purpose give yourself to God that } r ou may speak 
i:i the humble spirit of Jesus Christ, avowing that your doctrine 
is neitlior yours nor of you, but of the Gospel; imitate, especial 
ly, the simplicity of language and comparison which our Lord 
employs in the Holy Scriptures when speaking to the people. 


Ah! what marvellous things He could have taught the people! 
What secrets lie. Who was the Eternal Wisdom of the Father, 
could have told of the Divinity and its admirable perfections ! 
And 3 r et, you see how intelligibly He speaks, how He makes 
use of familiar comparisons, of a husbandman, of a vinedresser, 
of a field, of a vineyaiul, and of a grain of mustard seed. Thus 
you must speak, if you desire to be understood by the people 
when you announce to them the word of God. 

" Another thing to which you must give special attention is 
dependence on the conduct of the Son of God. I wish to sav 
that when you are called upon to act, you should make this re 
flection: Is this conformable to the maxims of the Son cf God? 
If you find it to be, say : Very well, let us act. If the contrary. 
say: I will not touch it. 

" Again, when there will be question of doing some good 
work, say to the Son of God: O Lord, wert Thou in my place 
how wouldst Thou act in this case? How wouldst Thou instruct 
this people? How console this person, sick both in body and in 
mind ? 

" This dependence should also include a great deference to 
those who represent Our Lord and who hold the place of supe 
riors in your regard. Believe me, their experience, being de 
rived from their position, has taught them a great many things 
relative to their manner of conduct. I say this to induce you 
neither to do anything of importance, nor undertake anything 
extraordinary Avithout acquainting us. If the thing be so urgent 
that you have not the time to await our decision, address your 
self to the nearest superior, and ask him: "Sir, what would you 
do in such circumstances ? We know from experience that God 
has blessed those who have thus acted, and, on the contrary, 
those who have done otherwise have embarked in affairs that 
have not only placed themselves in difliculty but also have 
embarrassed us. 

li l pray you also to banish the wish of distinguishing your 
self in your government. I desire that you affect nothing singu 
lar, but that you always follow the royal road, that grand route, 
in order to walk surely and without blame. I mean by this that 
you conform in all things to the rules and pious customs of the 


Congregation. Introduce nothing new, but follow the instruc 
tions that have been drawn up for the use of those who are 
charged \vith the government of the houses in the Congrega 
tion, and abridge nothing of what is practised in it. 

" Be not only faithful yourself in the rules, but also Le exact 
in having them observed, for if you fail in this all will go wrong. 
And, as you will hold the place of Our Lord, so must you, in 
imitation of Him, be a light that both lightens and warms. 
Jesus Christ, says St. Paul (Meb. i--iii) is the splendor of 
His Father and St. John says that He is The light which en- 
lighteneih every man that cometh into the world. " (John l--ix) 
" \Ve see that superior causes influence inferior. For exam 
ple: The angels that belong to a superior hierarchy enlighten, 
illumine, and perfect the intelligence of an inferior hierarch}-. So 
too, should the superior, the pastor, or director, purify, illu 
mine, and unite to God the souls whom He commits to them. 

"And, as the heavens diffuse their beneficent influence on the 
earth, so must those who arc above others infuse into them the 
chief spirit that is to animate them. To do this you will require 
to be replete with grace, with light, and with good works; 
just as we see the sun, of its plentitude, communicate to the 
other luminaries their brightness. 

" Finally you must be like salt: You are the salt of the earth, 
preventing corruption among the flock of which you are the pas 

At this point of the conference a brother, who had something 
to say about some temporal concerns, entered. The brother, having 
left, Vincent took occasion to add the following remarks: You 
see, sir, how from the things of God, of which we were just now 
speaking,! must turn my attention to temporal matters. From" 
this you should understand that not only is it the duty of the 
superior to attend to spiritual things, but he must also ex 
tend, his care to temporal affairs. For, as those whom he di 
rects are composed of body and soul, he must, consequently, 
provide for the wants of both the one and the other. And he 
should do this in example of God, Who, though occupied from 
all eternity in begetting His only Son, and the Father and Son 
in producing the II oh Ghost, yet, besides these operations 
within Himself, has created the world outside of Himself, and is 


constantly occupied in preserving it and its dependencies, pro 
ducing; every year nc\v grain on the earth, new fruit on the trees, 
and such like. And this care of His Adorable Providence ex 
tends so far as not to allow a leaf to fall without His order; lie 
counts the hairs on our heads, and feeds the smallest worm, 
even the flesh worm. Thrs consideration seems to me well cal 
culated to show j ou that one ought not only to apply himself 
to what is elevated, as are the functions that regard spiritual 
things, but also that a superior, who, in some measure, rcpre 
presents the reach of the power of God, should devote his care 
to the least of temporal affairs, and not imagine such care un 
worthy his position. Give yourself, then, to God to procure 
the spiritual good of the house to which you go. 

The Son of God recommended to His disciples, when first 
He sent them out, to possess no money; but afterwards, when 
the number of His disciples increased, lie directed that one of 
them should have charge of the purse, whose duty it would be 
rot only to assist the poor, but also to provide for the wants of 
His family. Still more, He suffered pious women to follow in 
His company for the same purpose, tvho ministered imto Him. If 
in the Gospel He ordains that we be not troubled about the mor 
row, it should be understood as cautioning us against too much 
anxiety and solicitude for the goods of this world, and not as 
meaning that we absolutely neglect the means to procure susten 
ance and raiment; otherwise the earth should not be tilled. 

"With this I finish; this is enough for today. I repeat 
anew that you are about to undertake a very great work, a grand 
work, I pray Our Lord to impart His blessing to your manage 
ment, and do .you, in return, pray Him, with me, to forgive all 
the faults I have committed in the position I hold." 


L E T T E R S 

A N I) 

U N I 3 U B L I S II E D P II A G M E N T S 




On the word of Our Lord : " Ami I, if I le lifted from the 
earth, will draw all things to myself." (John, xii.32. ) 

" This word of our dear Master and lover teaches us that we 
can and ought to aim at the perfection of true love. It is His 
clearly expressed intention to draw us to Him, and He speaks 
with power to effect his promises. Is there need of anything 
else, Dearest Beloved, to cause Thee to be loved above all ? 
How is it that vanity has prevailed, and still prevails, against 
truth ? Let us have mora courage, dearest sisters, and accom 
plish, as far as possible, the word of God., Or, rather, pray 
Him to fulfill in us the promise He has made of drawing all to 
Himself; this will give the universal domination to the Author 
of all. Is it not just, is it not glorious, to co-operate with God 
in the execution of His designs? Let us, then, bow to the will 
of our dearest Love, that His word may be verified in us. What 
would it be. if, seeing Him raised above the earth for the pur 
pose of drawing us to Him, we should remain so bound that the 
ties of our earthly affections would resist all the power and 
charm of His pure love? Draw us, then, O Lord! We will 


run, and the odor of Thy ointments will hold us so firmly that 
nothing will ever separate us from Thy charity. Thon, Thyself, 
dost wish to draw us; grant that we be strongly impre>sc 1 with 
this word. If we belong to Thee, we will no longer be, 
for it would be a thefc to withdraw ourselves, ever so little, 
from the possession of Thy love. Thou desirest to draw us t3 
Thyself: I, too, wish it, my dear Spouse; I desire it ; and in proof 
I follow Thee to the foot of the cross, which I select as my 
cloister. There I wish to abandon to earth all the affections of 
earth, being invited thereto by Thy voice telling my heart to incline 
my ear, and forget my people and the house of my father, that I 
ma}- be filled with the greatness of Tlrylove. At the foot, then, 
of this sacred and holy, cross, never expecting any joy save 
subject to Thy good pleasure, I sacrifice all that can alter 
the purity of the love Thou desirest of me. 

" lie not frightened, my dear sisters. The Spouse of the 
Canticles, who has preceded us in this holy love and whom. we 
should regard as our abbess, lias said that the well beloved was 
white and ruddy. Let not the thorns of these two roses pre 
vent us from wearing the bouquet; but rather, since the prop 
erty of love is to form a resemblance with the object loved, imi 
tate His purity and His charity, the one represented by the 
white, and the other by the crimson of the rose: purity of God 
in Himself as indicated by His simplicity, in His favors and 
graces by His disinterestedness; charity of God in Himself 
shown in the unity of His essence and the distinction of the 
Divine Persons, love of God for men proved bj His having 
willed that His Divine Son should become man, because His 
delight is to be wi^i the children of men, and in order, by ac 
commodating Himself to the manner of men, to show in all His 
human life that God has loved them from all eternity, Then, 
let us love this Love, and hold fast to it since the retaining of it 
depends on us. Let the actions of our Beloved be often present 
to our memory; He is not content with the love of all whom 
He calls in general; lie desires, moreover, some who will 
be very dear to Him, who will be elevated to a singular love, .1 
love more pure and perfect. Admire in this the goodness of 
our Beloved: and, in the simplicity of the dove, ask Him if lie 
desires that we be of these privileged souls. Oh, my Lord, I 


have had a certain Inexpressible suggestion of a love not com 
mon which Thou desirest of chosen creatures that they may ex 
hibit on earth I he purity of Thy love. Sec, we are here a little 
group; may we aspire to this love? It seems to me all our 
hearts have the desire. But the knowledge of our weakness, 
derive;! from our past infidelities, gives rise to the fear that 
Thou mayest refuse" us. Yet, the recollection that Thou hast 
not limited the number of times we are to pardon our 
enemies leads us to believe that Thou wilt do the like in 
our regard. This being so. we believe that Thou lovest us. 

o o 

Thou trvly lovest us because Thou art but one with Thy 
Father, and Thy Father has wished to testify His love by giv 
ing us Thee, His only Son. We are convinced that Thou wiliest 
we should love Thee, since both Thy ancient and Thy new law 
command it, and because Thou, Thyself, has promised that, if 
we love Thee, we will be loved by the Father, and that He, 
with Thee, will come and dwell with us. Oh, the power of love ! 
Oh, the wonderful treasure hidden in the inmost recess of the 
soul ! Oh. pure love, how I love tliee ! As thou art strong as- 
death, oh, take from me all that is opposed to thee ! Behold us, 
then, oh, my Lord, at the foot of Thy cross, ready to be drawn 
to Thee, as Thou hast promised ! Were it not that Thy word 
is all powerful, I would dread the weight of earthly affections; 
but Thou well knowest all, since Thou requirest neither our con 
sent nor our effort. Act, then, mightily, and unite our love to 
Thy love, our life to Thy life, and our death to Thy death." 



"First, our interior converse with God ought to consist, it 
seems to me, in the thought of His holy presence, in adoring 
Him at all hours, and in eliciting acts of love towards His divine 
goodness, recalling to mind as much as we can the motives that most 
impressed us in prayer, and especially the affections and resolu 
tions we made, in order thus to correct our faults and advance in 


His lioly love.Second,onall occasions painful to nature we should 
consider the paternal bounty of God, Who, like a good father, 
permits us to feel His divine justice ; sometimes it is for the pur 
pose of testifying greater love for us by giving us a share in suf 
fering in order,to apply to us the merit of the sufferings ot His Son, 
and to excite us to acts of gratitude. Third, when we meet with 
what pleases us, and when things succeed as we , desire, we should, 
before entertaining the proffered joy, turn interiorly to God and 
express our gratitude for His mercy, which, through pure love, 
gives us this consolation, and, accepting it in this view, elicit an 
act of love. Fourth, we should do all that depends on us to 
make every object that presents itself to our senses an occasion to 
elevate our hearts to God; at times, regarding, them as created by 
the all-powerful hand of God; then, again, reflecting on the de 
sign of God in their creation, remembering that all has been cre 
ated for the use of man that man might show himself grateful. 
Fifth, think, again, on the excellence of the being God has given 
us, and, then, let us lift ourselves above the baseness to which 
corrupt nature inclines us in engaging our affections in number- 

A O O O 

less vanities that are not worthy to occupy our mind, and let us 
protest that we desire nothing on earth but God alone. Sixth, 
when borne down, as it seems to us, with great difficulties, we 
desire or hope for aid from creatures, and this aid does not come, 
either through a dispensation of Divine Providence, or through 
the fault of others, we should immediately think of the Divine 
"Will, and, accepting it in this privation, elevate our heart and 
have recourse to God alone. From all eternity lie has been, 
and now is,self-sufficing and,consequently,we should reflect that 
He can and ought to suflice for us. Since we arc so blessed as 
to be in a state wherein we should love Him as our only con 
solation, we ought to form an act of this love by accepting cheer 
fully the privation of what is wanting to us, though the object 
may seem very reasonable and very necessary. Let each of us 
remain in peace with God without a murmur against creatures, 
for, not all united could give us the slightest cause of annoyance 
did not God permit it. But to place our hearts at the disposi 
tion of the divine pleasure in all the above-mentioned occasions, 
we must often produce acts of desire to know God and to know 
ourselves, and, hence, acts of love for God and of hatred for 


ourselves, in order to give to God what we owe Him and refuse 
ourselves whatever is displeasing to Him. We must frequently 
make an act of abandonment and show Him our hearts overflow- 
ins with love and gratitude." 



"The design of God in creating souls is to send them on thif* 
earth as pilgrims, for their bodies are their companions only for 
a time. Hence the majority of our forefathers did not have a 
lasting habitation, but often went on pilgrimages through devo 
tion, perhaps, in order to keep- before their eyes the fact that 
their true home was not on earth. And, to confirm them in 
this truth, God has been pleased to olten accompany them with 
His holy angels. This should induce me to cheerfully accept all 
changes of place when it will please His Providence to permit 
it, and I should interiorly join company with my angel guar 

" Our first father, having contravened the designs of God, by 
wishing to become immortal in eating the forbidden fruit, in 
place of life grasped death, and to remedy this the Son of God 
came Himself to be a pilgrim; for his life, which should be our 
example, was a constant pilgrimage." 



" We should go to the new place with the intention of honor 
ing the Divine Providence that conducts us thither and be dis 
posed to then do whatever this Providence will permit to^be 
our duty. We should honor in this change that of Jesus and 
Mary from IJethlehem to Egypt and other places, and desire. 
no more than they, any fixed abode on earth." 




First: Fitlclityto the rule of rising and morning meditation 3 : 

"God be praised, my dear Sister, for it is the manna that God 
gives to those who rise early. Oh, if you kne\vthe joy I foci 
when I hear you coming to the chapel -in the morning! Oh! 
the sweetness there tasted well recompenses the difficulty ex 
perienced in overcoming self. We ought to rise promptly, 
without bargaining Avith the pillow, and then kneel, etc." 

Second : In beginning a conference : " God be blessedly dear 
Sister, because we have reason to hope that our Lord is with us, 
since He has said : i V/iicn two or three are gathered in My name 
thcrv am 1 in ike insist of them. (Matt, xviii., 20). What do you 
think lie does, my dear Sister ? lie darts forth His beams, as 
a Divine San, to enlighten and warm our hearts. We, then, 
should meet here to honor the assemblies that have gathered in 
the presence of our Lord, ar.d with the desire to perfect our 
selves and correct the faults of which we accuse ourselves. 1 

Third: "If you only knew, my dear Sister, how consoled I 
was the other day when I learned that a poor person had beaten 
a sister, and she, by the grace of God, did not defend herself! 
Oh, well ! He was a master somewhat rough ; but it was 
necessary to suffer correction from him, for we are the servants 
of the poor and must endure everything from them." 

Fourth: When giving "the simple and poor habit of the 
Daughters of Charity," she recommended love, purity of in 
tention, and interior as well as exterior divesting of self; and, on 
patting on the cornettc, she said : "Let us have our ears closed 
to worldly discourse and open to the eternal truths. Let this 
white head-dress be the symbol of purity. It is given last because 
the last thing we give up is our own judgment which has its scat 
in the head." 



First: "Let us keep in view the presence of God and the 
thought of the equality of all rational creatures in their crca- 

I.KTIEKS OF 3IA!>KMO!SKT.I.r. <;!:.\S. 7 

tion ; the least before men being oftentimes the most beloved by 

Second: "Let us look upon this time as given us by tilt- 
Goodness of God, that we. may become united by n sincere in 
terchange of thoughts, of words. and of action?, and thus honor the 
unity and distinction of the divine persons, and imitate the 
union of the saints in Heaven." 

Th .rd : " Lot OUT conversation be, witba!, truly cheerful and cor-* 
dial, making no distinction between those "who please and those 
whom we think disagreeable ; let our answers be kind, and let 
us, without contention or taking anything in ill part, bear in 
mind the meekness of Jesus Christ in His words and actions, 
when, as frequently occurred, lie was blamed. We ought not 
to belittle those who speak less correctly, unless we be assured 
they will not be displeased and alwavs without r.:iv thought 

* O 

against charity " 

Fourth: "Deceive in good part all little pleasantries, looking 
upon our sisters as better and more beloved in the sight of God 
than we, and let us consider it. a happiness to serve them. 

Fifth: " Let us elevate our hearts to God, reflecting that it is 
a time of relaxation given us that we may be the better ablo to 
serve God. Let us think of the joy of Heaven, and reflect that 
the bond of iove is the blood poured out from the heart of Jesus 

Sixth: "Let the example of Jesus Christ and the spirit of 
charity regulate our discourse, seeking the interests of others, 
without curiosity in regard to motives and actions, and flying 
all particular friendships. 

Seventh: "Let us be kind to all; honor the superioress, who. 
in our regard, represents Jesus Christ. on earth, blaming neither 
her action nor her regulations, for it is rather the spirit of God 
than her own that governs." 

Eighth: ;; We ought to defend the absent, thinking of our 
selves in their place, and of our own faults." 

Ninth: "The subjects of our conversation should be si:ch as 
arc calculated to foster a love for the observance of th,> rule, for 
every other devotion, without this,is more prejudicial than profit 
able, as all our words should give edification." 





" At last the moment has come which Divine Providence has 
chosen for the departure of our sisters, and it is with grief we 
<sndurc this, because we thus become separated, but, again, it is 
with joy because of the assurance we have that they go to do the 
will of God and to unite with you in the accomplishment of his 
designs in the kingdom of Poland. Oh, my dear sister, of what 
great importance these are ! I pray the goodness of God to 
grant you the grace to know it, because I am sure this knowl 
edge Avill give rise Avithin you to a great humility and confusion 
when you reflect that you arc chosen for such a work, and Avill 
also inspire you with the desire to become less unworthy. And 
how will you do this, my very dear sisters, and I with you? 
We must, by the mortification of the senses, cause our passions 
and inclination to die within us; and also, empty our hearts of 
everything in order, by the grace of God, to have them filled 
with love, that thus His Divine Bounty may accept the sacrifice 
of yourselves, which you will oiten offer to His Majesty, and 
the services Avhich, under the direction of the queen, you Avill 
render to the poor. Our Sister Margaret Avill tell you in regard 
to this all that our most honored father will have instructed her. 
My dear sisters, you have always informed me that you were, 
f n the name and honor of the Most Holy Trinity, but one heart 
in your three persons. Now, I beg youto enlarge this heart and 
let our three other sisters enter this cordial union so that there 
will be no distinction between the first three and the last three. 
I assure you they go to you in the pure disposition of always 
trying to please God, and are not attached to their own interests, 
nor even their own satisfaction. Not that nature does not, at 
times, furnish even the most perfect with occasions for struggling ; 
but you know that it is the test of the fidelity of souls that 
desire to belong to God. Do not, my dear sisters,bc astonished 
at them ; it is then our hearts should be all the more generous 
and, notwithstanding nature, practise virtue in the exercise of 
humility, thus proving that we wish to be really Christian, and 


to honor Jesus Christ in the practice of the virtues His sacred 
humility has taught us. 

" Would you like, my dear sisters, that I draw your attention 
to a point that seems to me essential ? It is that you, when 
together, never make use of the Polish language without explain 
ing your conversation to our sisters. This, besides being a means 
for them the gooner to learn the language, will obviate many in 
conveniences that otherwise might arise. 

" It appears to me that I will be unable to sufficiently rejoice 
at the union which I believe will exist among you in word and 
in action. Its manifestation will be a source of edification both 
for yourselves and for those outside who may be witnesses of it. 
Let there be among you six no secrets, but guard religiously 
from all externs whatever transpires in the house. In this case 
what good may we not expect ? I supplicate our Lord in Ilia 
bounty to bestow on you abundant graces for all that lie re 
quires of you, and I remain in His love, etc." 



" It is not sufficient to have our intelligence enlightened by 
the knowledge of our fault; we must, moreover, have our will 
purified so that we may reject them. The first serves to cleanse 
our soul in preparation for the birth of Christ in us, and th<3 
other to adorn and beautify it for His reception. The purifi 
cation is effected by a good confession of all our sins, and the 
embellishment by the exercise of virtue, and especially by 
prayer, by lasting and almsgiving. These will, in some sort, 
for persons in the world, take the place of the three vows of 
religion, namely, almsgiving will represent poverty, fasting 
chastity, and prayer obedience; we may also lay them at the crib, 
in union with the gifts of the three Kings: alms with the gold, 
fasting with the myrrh, and prayer with the frankincense ; or 
again present the three to the Blessed Trinity : prayer to tlu- 
1 ather, fasting to the Son, and almsgiving to the Holy Ghost ; 


in thi:3 way we will adore llio Incarnate God in prayer with the 
the Kings, in fasting with the .shepherds, 
and Cod, in turn, will bless us, 

, :, -. . i EOT ION. 

"I see YOU l)otli, it recnis 10 me, in ;.rcat pence and animated 
with the doire of exciting one another to union and cordiality 

>i \ each other, telling each other 

whtit each h.i-; done v. hen alone, and ini orinin^ one another 
>n go when you leave the house, one through submis 
sion and Lhc other through kindness and condescension. Act thus 
in ail le exercises, as, fur instan;-. , when one h;i ; 

to be li ly let her overcome herself that she may 

bontvibute to the r ; of the other, and let her is 

cheerful moderate her joy in order thai:, humoring the other for 
tin i . , d, slio may. liltlu by little, chase away her melan- 
choly. You should do this th;.l yt.a may not listen to the 
temptation oi omfort elsewhere, and discharging the 

bur i sn of your poor heart on strangers, a thing that would be 
the toinl ru .ii of the h</ly friendship that should exist betw. .-; 
two :-i . ers. 


r.i; i Wi r .r.\ srri u;ou AND 

"How i- i;. my Sister Barbe. that, by the little eordiality you 
manifest towards the sister God has given you, by your little 
disdains and the wants of kindness to her in her weaknesses, 
you have come to forget that, when you were appointed her 


superior, yon assumed the obligations of spiritual mother which 
arc far greater than those of a natural mother, for you, more 
than she, are bound to euro for the salvation and perfl-cllon of 
those under your charge V This, too, obliged you to terci 
great meekness and charity such as the Son of God recommend 
ed v.-hile on earth. Did you not, when accepting this charge, 
immediately perceive what humility it required on your part, 
since you have so much reason to know your own incapacity? 
Outfit you not always have before your eyes, when you give 
anv command, that it is because obedience requires it, and not 
that you, of yourself, have any right to command? But now, 
I trust the evil is not beyond remedy. Resolutely place your 
faults before you without trying to excuse them in anyway; 
for, of the evil we do there is, in truth, no other cause than our 
selves. Acknowledge t-iis truth before God. Excite in your 
heart a great love for our Sister Louise; and, in view of the 
mcrclial justice of our good God, throw yourself at her loot and 
ask her pardon for all your coldness and all the pain you have 
occasioned her, promising that, with God s help, you will love 
her as Jesus Christ wishes. Show her all the consideration 
which you should have for her, and, with this feeling really in 
your heart, embrace her. 

"And you, my dear Sister Loulse,see how you are fallen again 
into your bad little ways! What do you think your condition 
is? Is it a life of liberty? Far from it. It ought to be a con 
stant submission add obedience. Is it possible you never .re 
flect on this? Or, if you do, have you so little love of God 
so little tear of your salvation that you neglect to do what you 
are obliged? My daughter, use a little violence with your 
self .... Do you not remember that you should do nothing 
nor go anywhere without the permission of my Sister Barbe,whora j 
before leaving, you accepted as your superior and whom you 
outfit to love as much or more than your own mother? 

"In noticing your faults my own rise up before me, a. d this; me, my (laughter, to express what is now uppermost in 
my i.-.ind. It is the bad example I have given you in the prac 
tice of the virtues I have recommended. I beg of you, mygodcl 
sisters, to forget it and ask pardon for me, and the grace that I 
may correct myself." (Oct. 28th, 1039). 




The principal object of this letter is to testify the displeasure 
I feel in seeing the evil disposition of our sisters and the want- of 
union that appears among you. I am also very much astonished 
that by reason of soraejlittle contradictions some have listened to 
the desire of coming to Paris before obedience calls. Oh, my 
dear sisters, there is great reason to say that they do not know 
what they demand. Oh, well, you are a littlehurt when these 
gentlemen, our fathers, (the poor) mortify you in the pres- 
-ence of the poor, who are your masters. Give them no cause, 
^nd do your duty so well that they can have no fault to find. 
When sometimes you think you have done something wrong, or 
when any of these gentlemen criticise you too harshly, according 
to your idea, and you imagine that that will injure you with the 
sick, humble yourselves by patiently enduring it, and then, 
afterwards, go and quietly tell them your reasons, begging them 
to quietly admonish you of your faults. ... I pray you, my 
dear sister, to first give the example of the virtue you desire to 
see in all. I have noticed the little aversion that you mention, on 
the part of one of our sisters. Oh, my God, your charity must 
have great compassion and patience with her. Do you not 
know that, ordinarily, this is in our natural feelings, and that we 
are not always masters of it ? But it is the duty of those in 
charge to try, without being perceived, to help them in banish 
ing this antipathy. We must not be so lender as to worry if 
some neglect to speak to us, or if all do not meet ns with a 
pleasant face, but should endeavor to win all hearts by patience 
and cordiality. Finally, my dear sister, those who have the care 
of others should look to their own satisfaction no more than it 

they were insensible I know, my dear sister, there is a 

great deal of difficulty in properly discharging the duties of our 
oth ce; but God Who has imposed them will not refuse us His 
grace. To obtain it, let us humble ourselves very much by a 
holy diffidence in ourselves and a great confidence in His mercy, 
a confidence that will make us ask of Him in all simplicity 
whatever He wishes we should give our dear sisters whom we 


will regard as His dear creatures and servants/ (To Sister 
Turgis, Angers, Aug. 24th. 1G43). 



" IIo\v have the tares, which appear desirous of choking the 
good grain, succeeded in being introduced among you ? Oh 
my dear sisters, I fear very much that my bad example has 
given rise to these dangerous impressions in your minds. If it 
be so, do me the charity to ask pardon of God for inc, and do 
yon yourself pardon me by doing better than you have seen me 
do, in order no longer to sadden our good God by giving His 
enemy what belongs to Him, and also that you may not lose 
the recompense His bounty promises those, who, being in His 
grace, perform works of mercy; for lie rejects the greatest 
presents of those whom He sees filled with their own will . . . . 
Finally, my dear sisters, we must belong to God, and entirely to 
God ; and to become so properly we must tear ourselves away 
from our own selves. And, believe me, if we, without any self 
llattery, probe our troubles and difficulties we will find that 
nelf-love alone is our greatest enemy and is the cause of our 
finding so much fault with others, and the reason why we so 
desire to gratify ourselves in everything." 



"At last it has pleased our good God to give some relief to 
the pains you all have, for so long, endured, and especially you, 
my dear sister, whom our Lord lias chosen to bear this heavy 
yoke. But as it was His own I am confident, dear sister, His 
mercy has aided you very much. Blessed forever be His holy 
name! I trust, too, that His grace will inspire you with strength 



and courage until He,, in His goodness, will perfect this 
work .... You know that our happiness consists in.entirelv 
abandoning ourselves to His guidance. 

I haVe been wonderfully consoled with the hope that our 
Lord would have diffused great Lie sinu s, general as well as 
particular, on your i amily. I desire it with all my heart, and I. 
pray you not to be uneasy if you do not obtain, as soon as you 
would like, by a firmly established tranquility, entire repose and 
consolation. You know thai good is done only little by Hill-. 
The evil one tries his hand, but he will not win, provided you 
gather yourselves together and become closely united at the 
foot of the cross, as the little chickens under the mother s wing 
when the cat is on the watch." . 


TO THE SAME, ox MUTi:. 1 . r. SIT; OUT. 

"Alas, my dear sisters, from whom will we sutler if not from 
those with whom we live ? Will it be from persons at a distant- , 
from those whom we have never seen, and probably never w. ll 
see? From what docs a member of the body sull er if not fr : 
the evil caused it by another member? From whom andthn ;: h 
whom has our Lord suffered if not through His Apostles. His 
Disciples, and the people among whom He lived, who were the 
people of God? This is to show you, my (bar sisters, that o I 1 
daily crosses come from those only with whom we constantly 
are." ( April !>4th, 1049.) 



I must, my dear sisters, tell you, in all simplicity, the .though: s 
that came to my mind whilst reading this letter. Oh. my d< ai 


sisters, the sweetness of bis stylo, his remarks on (lie graces God 
has bestowed on you. and onus too,and the instructions his charity 
so gently. jives you, all have inspire* me with sueh a dread that 
I cannot express it. For I recall how often, through him, God 
has warned ns of our obligations, how often he knew and kindly 
overlooked our faults and shortcomings, never wearying in in 
citing and encouraging us, taking all fatherly care of us, and giv 
ing himself as much trouble for us as if we were persons of 
merit. What return have we made him, unfruitful soil thftt we 
are? Nothing but displeasure and annoyance,by reason of our 
infidelities towards God for whom he Avishes to gain us. At 
times it was grief over the departure of some member of the 
community, or some grievous fault committed against her voca 
tion at others it was the decline of the entire body that 
worried him. Yv r e are all stupid. It seems that all the admon 
itions -God has caused to be given us have proved only so many 
useless words given to the wind: and, Avhat is worse, I greatly 
fear that, having been pronounced in the presence of God and 
His angels, they will, to our great confusion, reappear at our 
judgment. Is it not -\vith reason that my heart was seized with 
fear and just apprehension ? Do not imagine that I say all this to 
frighten you.nor to you alone; I refer to myself and to all who. 
like me, have not made good use of their vocation. I beseech 
you alU or the love of" the death of our Master, to renew your 
selves in His resurrection, and receive the peace lie has so often 
given us in the persons of His apostles. But, remark, He does 
not give it to them while idle, but while laboring and in memory 
of the wounds He has suffered for us, thereby teaching us that 
it is impossible for us to have peace with God, with our neigh 
bor and ourselves, unless Jesus Christ gives it, and, moreover, 
that He will not grant it but through the merits of his wounds 
and sufferings. Now, these merits will never be applied to us 
save by the mortification of ourselves, and this we will acquire 
by imitating Him in doing the most holy will of God. How 
y you are in comparison, not only with other young persons 
like you, but even with ladies of rank, who seek to be em 
ployed in the service of God and His poor, and who have such 
an ardent desire to do the will of Gpd to be assisted therein! 
Yet thev cannot obtain this consolation. To you nothing is 


wanting; still you seem dissatisfied, and, instead of making use 
of the means God gives you for your perfection, you spurn them. 
Forgive me. my dear sisters, if my affection for you employ 
such language ; for I, myself, have often been guilty of faults, 
similar to those of which I suspect you. But, once for all, I 
wish to be faithful to God and I will for this often ask His 
grace. Do likewise; esteem and read, with affection, your rules 
and instructions desiring to put them in practice, and labor in all 
earnestness to do so for the love of God; especially, profit by 
the advice, the last, perhaps, that God gives you concerning 
what He desires of you. I have no thought, my dear sisters, of 
menacing you with the judgment of God; but let you and me 
fear His indignation if we neglect to accomplish His will." 



In the name of God, my dear sisters, do not grow tired o 
your troubles nor become disconsolate in seeing yourself de 
prived of all consolation save in God. Oh, did we know the 
secrets of God in placing us in this condition, we would perceive 
that it should be the occasion of our greatest consolation. Eh, 
well, you see a number of poor whom you cannot succor ! God 
also sees them and He does not iclieve them. Bear their bur 
den with them; do your best to give them some little aid, find 
then remain in peace. Perhaps you share in the distress. If so 
that is a consolation for you; for, had you plenty, your hearts 
would be pained in enjoying it whilst seeing our lords and 
masters suffer much. Besides, God chastises His people for <>ur 
sins. , Is it not reasonable that we should suffer with others ? 
Who are we that we imagine we ought to be exempted from the 
public miseries ? If the mercy of God do not permit us to ex- 
pericnce the most severe distress let us be heartily grateful, and 
believe that it is solely through His goodness and not from anv 
merit on our part. . . . The majority of our sisters in the 
environs of Paris have been obliged to seek shelter elsewhere ; 


but, thanks be to God, up to the present they have suffered no 
injury or vexatjon. You know the beautiful ceremony that 
takes place to-day at the exposing of the shrine of St. Genevieve. 
Oh, how good it is to be faithful to God, Who, as a mark of His 
eternal affection, causes such honor to be rendered His faith 
ful servants." (To Sister Barbe, Angiboa, Brienne. 1652.) 



I have learned that Our Lord still continues you His grace 
by permitting your infirmities to keep 3 ou constant company, 
and that, at times, as I believe at present, they cause you great 
suffering. You sec clearly the way that God wishes you to go 
to Him is His royal road of the cross. I am sure you will 
cheerfully and willingly allow yourself to be conducted in this 
road in order to do His holy will, as I also hope you have done 
when His Providence imposed upon you the care of your little 

family It is only our ignorance that causes us to believe 

this to be an honor and a pleasure. Did we but understand 
what it is to be a sister servant, oh, how we, in receiving the 
office, would be humbled, knowing what a burden we are to the 
house, and what need we have to be supported by all; and also, 
when we reflected that thus we become obliged to attend by 
our care to all the duties of the house, and to give good 
example in everything; and, too, that, if we do our duty well, 
we must see that the others are first attended to, and our heart 
must include them all. Let us try, my dear sister, to put all 
this in practice. Let us prefer to qur own w.ishes those of our 
sisters when they are not contrary to the most Holy will of 
God." (To Sister Charlotte, Richelieu.) 



"Those who are in office should be the mules of tlu> 
Community. 1 


"I believe you have the pleasure of the Queen s presence 
at Fontainbleau. If her Majesty should desire to speak with 
you cto not raise any difficulty, though the respect you owe give 
you a fear to "approach her. Her kindness and charity inspire 
the most humble with confidence to represent to her their 
wants. Do not forget to truly present those of the poor. I 
need not recommend modesty and reserve with those high 
personages. I know you have a singular esteem for those 
virtues; but do all you can for your poor, particularly in regard 
to the spiritual service you owe them." 

I think you do all you can to comfort our Sister N. , and 
that .you look upon her as a young plant from which you ma}-, 
one day. hope good fruit to present on the eternal table of our 
<rood God. 


Rly good Sister, are you very brave? Do 3*011 do, as the 
good shepherd, who risks his life for the welfare and security 
of the flock entrusted, to his care? Yes, I believe so; for, if we 
have not always the opportunity of exposing our lives we have 
those in which we are required to give up our own will in order 
to accord with others, to overcome our habits and inclinations 
that we may give example to our sisters, and to conquer our 
passions so as not to excite those of others. This is what we 
are obliged to do, my dear sister, in order to maintain cordiali 
ty, to exercise patience, and to be in the close union of the 
charity of Jesus crucified, which I implore God to give us. 
Please say to Sister Mary Martha that I trust that she will lie 
Mary Martha in effect :n well ns in name, that the name Mary 
obliges her to groat purity, ^meekness and modesty, and 
requires her to be ever ready to do a favor for others; that her 
name Martha calls for great exactitude to the rule in all its 
points. As for Sister Cecilia, oh, what calm and tranquil! ty 
she should possess that, after lln- example of her patron saint. 


she may sweetly sing- the praises of God! And our Sister 
Bridget should love the duration, of suffering in the continuance 
and accomplishment of the designs of God upon her. I hope- 
God will irnwt Sister Frances that her strength of mind may 
supply for the weakness and sroallness of her body, but, for this, 
tell lier, my sister, she has need of great coin-age. I sincerely 
hope that her sickness is entirely goi^and that she is thor 
oughly cured. What is good Sister ^apterme^ doing? Do the 
exertions of great labor terrify her? Has she sufficient love 
for God, like her dear patroness, to resist all? Tell her that it 
all depends on herself,and that the same dear Spouse has as much 
giaco and love to give her. provided she be faithful, as Ho gave 
the great St. Catherine. I say the same to Sister Barbe, to 
whom I wish perseverance and an increase in perfection, as 
also to you all, dear sisters. Be always mindful of the wants 
of the community, for it has need of your prayers and especially 
of the merit God gives to actions done for the service of the 
poor." . 



" Mv dearly loved sister, I adore, with all my heart, the order 
of Divine Providence in the disposition He seems to wish to 
make of your life. If it be His holy will to call to Himself 
your soul, blessed be His Holy Name ! Ho knows the regret I 
feel in being unable to assist you in this last act of love which I 
know you will make in very willingly returning your soul to the 
eternal Father in the. desire to honor the death of His Son. 
Our good Sister Elizabeth will give you the assurance of the 
affection of all our Sisters, and their hope that you will rcme::i 
ber them in heaven when God will show you that mercy; and 
.-particularly of our Sister Anne Mark-, who says she is very 
sorry she cannot be with you at the last moment. liemember, 
doan-si sister, the needs of the poor community to which God has 
called you. Be its advocate with His Goodness that it may 


please Him to accomplish His designs in regard to it. And, 
if His bounty permits, beg our good angels to help us. Good 
evening, my very dear sister, I pray with all my heart that 
Jesus crucified may bless you with all the virtues lie has prac 
tised on the Cross." 



Louise de Marillae, tvvent} - seven years a widow, servant of 
Jesus Christ, and in will, if not iu reality, of His members, the 
poor, most attached by obedience to the Holy Father, in 
quality of Roman Catholic, and on account of the desire, long 
cherished, wished to receive, at least once in her life-time, the 
Apostolic Benediction. She, therefore, humbly asks M. Berthe, 
a Priest of the Mission, to present her in spirit at the feet of 
the Most Holy Father, true vice-gerent of Jesus Christ, on 
account of the zeal which His Holiness displays for the faith of 
the Church. She begs this in order that she may obtain the 
grace from our good God of doing, in all things, for the rest of 
her da3 r s. His holy will. In return for this charity, she will 
consider herself obliged to pray to God for His Holiness. 



In the IS ame of God the Father. Son, and Holy Ghost. 

Prostrate in all humility, in the belief that God is every 
where, sole being and Creator of all immortal souls, with the 
true knowledge of my own nothingness and inability, without 
His grace, I very humbly implore His mercy on my miseries 
which have made me culpable of such ingratitude towards His 
goodness. And, though I have so often offended this goodness 


by my wretched sins that I am become unworthy to participate 
in the merits of Jesus crucified, yet in these I confidingly place 
all my hope. I beseech the Blessed Virgin to be to me a true 
mother and protectress, and to obtain for me, at the moment of 
my death, pardon for the abuse I have made of the graces of 
God. I, likewise, subject to the good pleasure of God, implore 
my holy angel guardian, St. LouiS, and all the saints, to help 
me, by their intercession in this so important a passage. And, 
even were I not obliged, yet would I, for the love of God. 
submit in honor of the moment of the separation of the Divine 
soul of my Savior, Who desires the salvation of mine, that I 
may eternally glorify Him, with His Father, and the Holy- 

"I protest before God, and before all creatures, that I 
wish to live and die in the bosom of the Holy, Roman Catho- 
olic, and Apostolic Church, and I command my son, as far as 
I can, to do the same, for I believe it to be the only path to 
paradise, for which we have been created. In the hope that 
God will grant him this grace I beseech His bounty to take 
full and entire possession of all that he is. to do in him and 
with him His most holy will. I likewise pray Him to water, 
with His efficacious grace, for time and for eternity, the bless 
ing, which, as mother. He has empowered me to give, and 
vrhich I now give him, i.i the Name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. I implore the sacred 
humanity of our Savior to have pity on our sinful souls at the 
hour of our death. 

" I verv humbly ask pardon of my guaidian angel and of my 
most honored father and director, by whom it lias pleased the 
mercy of God to hold me, willing, attached to the accomplish 
ment of His most holy will, for the little correspondence and 
fidelity I have shown for the charitable pare with which they have 
honored me in regard to my salvation. I acknowledge that, with 
out this care, I would often have wretchedly turned away 
from God. 

" I. also, very humbly demand forgiveness of all my dear 
neighbor* whom, by my sins. I have disedified and scandalized; 
of those whom I have displeased or oilViided in any manner 


whatsoever, and of all creatures of which, co ninny to the holy 
will of God, I have made bad use. I abandon myself to God 
to make such restitution, in this world or the next, as it will 
please His merciful justice to ordain. 

"The obligation of mother, together with the strong natural 
affection I always had for myieon, urges mo to recommend to 
him to remember the care which, for his salvation, the good 
ness of God had of his education, and to be grateful to Him all 
his life, and strive never to do anything contrary to His most 
hoi} will. To aid you in this, my son, take counsel in all your 
affairs of persons who are capable and of good life. And that 
the advice you will receive may be of greater use to 3-011, always 
ask it be-fore von take any decision; otherwise, you will not 
freely give your reasons for and against the thing you propose, 
and then you will onl} r deceive yourself. I rely so much on 
the generosity of M. Vincent that I am certain he will never refuse 
you his assistance in your wants, whether temporal or spiritual. 

You well know the obligation under which both you and I 
arc to him, and hence I entreat you, should you ever be so 
happy as to have the opportunity of serving his community, to 
do so with all your heart, remembering that you are particular 
ly obliged, not only by gratitude for the benefit we both have 
received, but also by reason of the service he renders the 

Church, our mother 

. " I beseech my son to often remember to pray to God for 
the repose of the soul of his father, and to recall to mind his 
good life, how he greatly feared God, and was scrupulous in 
keeping himself irreproachable; especially should he remember 
his patience in the great sufferings that fell upon him in his 
last years, and during which he practised very great virtue . . . 

Here follow the different legacies: First, to the Priests of 
ihe Mission for masses and good works for the benefit of her 
and hers, on the anniversary of her death, "and this to honor 
the moment of the death of Our Lord on the Cross, that the 
merit of this perpetual divine sacrifice ma} r be applied to those 
in I ho rtgonics of death, and to those persevering hi mortal sin, 
in order, thereby, to obtain for then;, from the mercy of God, 
efficacious grace to withdraw them." Second, to. her confessor. 

].KTTI:I;S or :.!AI>!:MO!S;:I.LK LF, OKAS 

Third, to her god- daughter. Fourth, to tUo confraternities 
of which she was a member, "asking pardon of God for having 
so often failed in the devotions they recommend, and this 
makes me believe that it is better to enroll ourselves in few and 
be more faithful to their obligations." Fifth, to the Sisters 
of Charity, "as a help towards preparing the remedies they nse 
l\:r the sick poor who come to their house, whilst I affirm that 
I am obliged to do far more for them had God given mo the 
means. Hence I implore my son to be grateful to them for the 
charity they have shown me,and to look upon it as a very great 
l>lc.-sing if God should give him any opportunity to do them a 
kindness. T exhort him most earnestly not to fail in IhiV 
Sixth, to the poor, that some charitable priest will preach a 
sermon to them, begging him, in the name of Our Lord, to 
speak onlv for their instruction, teaching them their obligation 
to know God, the difference between good and br.d poor, and 
how beneficial to their eternal welfare is poverty if they only 
know hovv to use it; moreover, what they should do before 
seeking alms; in what humility they should request it ; their 
obligations of serving God and hearing mass on Sundays and 
festivals; and strive to induce them to say their night and 
morning prayers; r.nd all for the glory of God and the salvation 
of souls who so often are lost through ignorance of their state 
and of their obligations. Seventh, to her son: " My son, as 
my sole heir, will at my deatli enjoy my property after my 
debts and legacies shall have been paid; at his death all I leave 
him will pass to the poor whom I substitute my heirs after him. 
Incase he marries and has children, he and his childien will 
enjoy it according to the law regulating substituted successions: 
but I intend and will that, should he have no legitimate off 
spring, the poor inherit the : ittle God -has given me. And. for 
ihis purpose. I humbly beg M. Vincent, founder and general of 
the Priests of the Mission, and; alter him, his successor?, to 
attei d to this disposition; so that, should the substitution take 
place, they mav collect the revenue and make an annual distri 
bution; for I know that their principal function is t) labor for the 
sr.lvat :<ni of the poor, i r winch purpose I would, were it pos 
sible, willingly give up my life, lint in case God gives a firm 
establishment to the Community of the Sisters <f Charity of 


the parishes, or it* it can subsist, as it has done for several 
years, remaining under the direction of the above named gen 
tlemen of the Mission, my intention and last wish is that, with 
the exception of a 3 early rent of a hundred francs which these 
same Gentlemen of the Mission will enjoy, the Sisters of Charity 
inherit, for the ends and on the conditions aforesaid, the little 
that I leave, that thus that may have more means wherewith to 
assist the sick poor in those country places where they may find 
less aid. I pray the goodness of God, should He please to give 
an} merit to this disposition, lo apply it as a means to bring 
down His mercy, of which we have great need for our salva 
tion, on the soul of in 3 son, and on my own, at the moment of 

"I very humbly pray M. Vincent, by the charity God has 
given him for his neighbor, and by the love he. bears the Sacred 
Humanity of Our Redeemer, to pardon me all neglect of grati 
tude for the honor he has done me in exercising so much 
charity towards my son and myself. 1 now thank him from 
the bottom of my heart, and J beg him to continue his holy 
affection for my son and be to him a father, giving him good 
counsel and aid in all his needs. I also .ask him to grant the 
prayer which, for the love of God, I make him, and his succes 
sor, should God call him away before me, of being, with my 
son, to whom I have proposed the substitution, the executor of 
this, my will. In return for the charity they will exercise in 
thts point I promise, should God be pleased to show me mercy 
and permit me to enter His Paradise, to do for them all that u 
isoul can do. 

"I, and willingly abandon, my soul into the hands of 
God, its creator and last end : I freely leave my body to earth 
to await its resurrection. As to the place of my sepulture, I 
leave it entirely, under the disposition of Divine Providence, to 
the direction of M. Vincent, simply begging him to remember 
the great desire I have testified to be buried alongside the wall 
ntthe foot of the Church of St. Lazarus, in the little court, which. 
from the bones found there, appears to have once been a 
cemetery. I still greatly desie to be interred there, and I ask 
ft of his charity, for the love of God. I also request that there 


be placed, as soon as possible, against the wall, a large wooden 
Cross with crucifix attached, and an inscription at its foot 
bearing the title : " Only Hope, 1 the entire to be at the expense 
of the little I leave, and of which God has given me to dispose 
in this my testament. 

" For my funeral, I declare that I do not wish any greater 
expense to be incurred than what is usual in the interments of 
our deceased Sisters; and that, should any desire to have it 
otherwise. I believe, even now, that he never had any regard 
for me. Because it is but reasonable that my miserable body, 
which so often offended God and has occasioned offense, should 
be held in no consideration. Moreover, though I am unworthy, 
that would be to pronounce me undeserving to appear as 
having died as a true Sister of Charity. 

Behold, oh, My God, Thy poor creature prostrate at the 
feet of Thy Grandeur and Majesty, acknowledging herself a 
criminal and meriting hell, to which Thy strict justice would 
have condemned me, were it not for the immense love that has 
made Thy Son become man to deliver me. May it please Thy 
Divine Goodness that I, with my son, be of the number of those 
who, through Him, will eternally glorify Thee ! and deign to 
kindly look upon the acts, desires , and dispositions made in this 
testament, drawn up in the belief that, such is Thy divine will, 
which has- always directed mine, and without which, I protest, 
with all my strength, never to will anything, and in which I 
affirm I wish to terminate my life as I have this writing, which 
I have done and signed with my hand, this Friday, the 15th 
day of December, 1645. Louise de Marillac, being. by the Grace 
of God, sound of body and mind." 

The 28th of December, 1G53, Mademoiselle Le Gras added to 
this will a codicil, necessitated by the marriage of her son. 
She terminated thus: "Thou knowest, oh, my God, that I am 
all Thine, and that Thy Providence, through Thy mercy, has 
been the guide of my entire life. I thank Thee, my God, for 
this and humbly ask anew, and from the bottom of my heart, 
pardon for all my neglect and ingratitude. Moved by Thy 
will, and renouncing every other consideration, I offer Thee 
this little disposition; I implore Thee, for the love of Jesus cru- 


cificd, to give me, my son, and his family, Thy blessing that we 
may glorify Thee eternally." 

Finally, on the llth of May, 1G5U, a little daughter having 
been born to her son, she revoked before a notary the substitu 
tion which she had confirmed in the codicil of 1053: "Having 
cveiy reason to be satisfied \vith the conduct of Michael Le 
Gras, esquire, her only son, bailiff of St. Lazauis and advocate 
~of the w mt, and of Gabricllc Le Clerc, his wife, in token of 
the respect and proof of friendship she has received since their 
mariirge, being assured that her above named son, dying 
without children, will have care to assist the poor with the 
goods he has, and will have, of the above named lady, his moth 
er," she added a special legacy of eighteen livres a year, in 
favor of her grand-daughter, " to use in giving a little dinner to 
the poor of her parish, at which she will serve them." 



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i ici. VTLP yd i o j 9 

r irLaes and Doctrine of 

3t. Vincent d 



Maynard, Michel Ulysse, 


Virtues and 
spiritual doctrine of 
St. Vincent de Paul 


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